Fujifilm Diosynth blueprints another $1.2B expansion at North Carolina plant where it aims to employ 1,400

As the contract manufacturing industry stands at a crossroads, certain CDMOs are prospering while other stalwarts are going the sell-off route or warding off political and economic threats to their businesses.

Thursday, Fujifilm Diosynth proved it’s firmly in the first camp as the company unveiled another massive expansion in the U.S.

Fujifilm is investing $1.2 billion more to soup up its end-to-end biomanufacturing facility in Holly Springs, North Carolina, bringing the total investment in the plant to more than $3.2 billion, the company said in a release.

Aside from adding large-scale production capacity, the project is expected to create 680 new jobs in Holly Springs, increasing the total number of positions at the site to 1,400 by 2031.

The move will help Fujifilm Diosynth harness the full potential of the antibody-drug market, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and bispecifics. The company expects the antibody market to grow 8% per year through 2030.

As part of the upgrade, Fujifilm Diosynth’s large-scale cell culture facility will increase its footprint by 425,500 square feet and add a total of eight new 20,000-liter mammalian cell culture bioreactors for bulk drug substance, according to a company fact sheet.

That will make for a total of 16 bioreactors at the site, including the other eight Fujifilm Diosynth mapped out when it first unveiled plans for its new cell culture plant back in 2021. That initial set of bioreactors is expected to come online with the first phase of the facility’s launch in 2025.

Meanwhile, the expansion revealed Thursday should be up and running by 2028, Fujifilm Diosynth said.

The project falls under Fujifilm’s KojoX modular production model, whereby the company builds out “identical large-scale production facilities” across Europe and the U.S.

The North Carolina expansion is also being supported by a Job Development Investment Grant approved by the state’s economic committee, Fujifilm said.

Fujifilm’s project comes at an interesting time for the biopharma contract manufacturing field. In recent weeks and months, Catalent committed to a sale while WuXi AppTec has had to fend off biosecurity accusations from U.S. lawmakers.

More broadly, some contract manufacturers have navigated low points after COVID-related demand began to wane. At the same time, some CDMOs such as Samsung Biologics have emerged from the downturn largely unscathed.

Apart from Fujifilm, Swiss production juggernaut Lonza has also made major investment plans in recent weeks.

In late March, the CDMO said it would pay $1.2 billion in cash to get its hands on a Genentech factory in Vacaville, California, immediately drafting plans to pump another 500 million Swiss francs ($561 million) into a future expansion at the site.

Like Fujifilm, Lonza will use the site to bolster its large-scale biologics capacity. The company is specifically targeting both commercial-scale mammalian contract manufacturing and clinical-stage projects.