MilliporeSigma drops €300M on Korean biologics plant with plans to create 300 new jobs

A little less than a year after Merck KGaA unveiled designs on a new bioprocessing plant in South Korea, the company’s U.S.- and Canada-based life science business, MilliporeSigma, has swooped in with a hefty investment at the site and the promise of hundreds of new jobs.  

MilliporeSigma is plugging 300 million euros ($326 million) into the new production center in Daejeon, South Korea, where it expects to create 300 new jobs by end of 2028. The project marks the largest investment by the company’s Life Science business sector in the Asia-Pacific region to date, the company said in a press release Wednesday.

The facility will ultimately cater to biotech and pharma companies with projects spanning process development, clinical research and commercial biologics manufacturing for products like vaccines, cell and gene therapies and monoclonal antibodies, MilliporeSigma said.

The site will cover an area of 43,000 square meters (about 460,000 square feet), roughly equivalent in size to eight football fields. The completed facility will include advanced production capabilities as well as a distribution center and an automated warehouse.

MilliporeSigma says its new Korean site is part of a multiyear investment program to boost production of critical drugs around the world. Since 2020, the company has invested more than 2 billion euros in manufacturing capacity and capability expansions across Europe, China and the U.S.

As the life sciences arm of Germany’s Merck KGaA, MilliporeSigma markets tools and tech needed for testing and production of pharmaceuticals. The company also operates a contract testing, development and manufacturing organization. MilliporeSigma employs more than 28,000 staffers worldwide, according to its release.

MilliporeSigma officially became part of Merck KGaA’s life sciences division in early 2022. The new unit, dubbed Life Sciences Services, combined MilliporeSigma’s CDMO business with Merck’s contract testing units and other operations such as marketing, sales and R&D.

Merck KGaA first revealed plans to establish a Korean bioprocessing plant last May, adding that Daejeon City and Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy would help foot the bill for the new plant. At the time, Merck KGaA said it would work with the Korean government to support biotechs based in the Daedeok Research Complex and establish ties with leading Korean universities.

More recently, MilliporeSigma has been hustling to build out its mRNA capabilities. Back in September, the company opened a pair of new mRNA drug substance plants in Darmstadt and Hamburg in Germany.