Thermo Fisher, plugging ahead on $650M bioprocessing upgrade, unveils $76M expansion at US site

Amid a deluge of demand for cell culture media, Thermo Fisher Scientific has tied a ribbon on a $76 million investment to stand up spare capacity.

The company has completed an expansion at its dry powder media manufacturing plant in Grand Island, New York, creating “redundant capacity” and expanding the site’s production arsenal to include technology and materials used in the development and commercial production of new vaccines and biologic drugs, Thermo Fisher said in a release.

The expansion is expected to create around 100 new jobs across research and development, operations, manufacturing, human resources, engineering and maintenance roles, the company added. The Grand Island site currently employs more than 1,600 staffers. Thermo fisher’s entire New York head count stands at more than 3,000 people.

The $76 million outlay, meanwhile, falls under the umbrella of Thermo Fisher’s $650 million bioprocessing investment unveiled last year. The entire project is designed to erect “flexible, scalable and reliable bioprocessing production capacity” for prophylactics and biologics, including COVID-19 vaccines.

In Grand Island, the expansion adds more than 45,000-square-feet of animal origin free production space, Thermo Fisher added. Among cell culture component suppliers, animal origin free manufacturing refers to elements that aren’t directly derived from eukaryotic animals, with the exception of higher plants, fungi, protozoa and algae, according to BioPharm International.

Specifically, the plant will be on deck to crank out Thermo Fisher’s Advanced Granulation Technology format and other animal origin free dry power media products. In turn, Thermo Fisher expects its abundance of capacity to hasten the development and manufacturing of biologics, vaccines, cell therapies, biosimilars and viral vectors.

Last March, Thermo Fisher unveiled plans to boost its bioprocessing operations with more than $600 million in capital investments plus at least 1,500 new hires. At the time, the company said the expansion would more than double production capacity, support short-term COVID-19 demand and bolster Thermo Fisher’s long-term efforts to develop biologics and vaccines for other diseases.

More recently, Thermo Fisher telegraphed the next leg of its massive bioprocessing overhaul in February. That month, the company drafted designs on a $40 million upgrade to its single-use technology manufacturing facility in Millersburg, Pennsylvania.

That expansion will include the addition of a new, 47,000-square-foot warehouse, plus 100 new hires, the company said earlier this year. Thermo Fisher expects to site to eventually employ more than 1,000 staffers once it’s fully renovated by the middle of 2023.