Merck KGaA's pharma unit joins the healthcare migration to Boston's Seaport innovation hub

In little more than a decade, Boston’s transformed Seaport district—once littered with industrial buildings, warehouses and parking lots—has become an innovation hub and home to more than 25 healthcare companies.

Add another to the list as Merck KGaA’s pharma subsidiary in the United States, EMD Serono, has revealed it will move its headquarters from 25 miles south in Rockland to Seaport.

“The U.S. market is critical to our continued success as a global specialty innovator,” Chris Round, the president of EMD Serono, said in a release. “This move serves as an important milestone in our journey to bring further innovation to address high unmet medical needs in areas where patients rely on us.”

The move is scheduled for the summer of next year. EMD Serono will take over a 60,000-square-foot space on two floors at 200 Pier 4 Boulevard, with an opportunity to expand. The space will be able to accommodate only 200 of the 400 employees based at the Rockland facility.

Offices will be designed to “foster collaboration and support a variety of hybrid working arrangements,” the company added in its release.

Company officials told The Boston Globe that employees will keep their jobs but some will be asked to work remotely.

Overall, EMD Serono has 1,050 U.S.-based employees. It also has an R&D facility 25 miles northeast of Boston in Billerica, Mass., which includes 250 employees and will remain intact, the company said.

Last year, Merk KGaA—which operates the life sciences service part of its business as MilliporeSigma— consolidated its CDMO business plus contract testing and associated marketing, sales and R&D units into one group located in Burlington, Mass, north of Boston.

Among the companies that have set up shop in the Seaport District are Vertex, CRISPR Therapeutics, AstraZeneca’s Alexion, Servier, and Radius Health, along with several other biotechs. Last year, Eli Lilly announced it will set up the Lilly Institute for Genetic Medicine in Seaport, due for completion next year.

Nearby Cambridge, Mass., is another life sciences hub that has attracted many companies anxious to draw from the area’s talent base and to establish partnerships with academic research labs and fellow biopharma companies.