Novartis lays out $256M for antibody plant expansion in Singapore, plots 100 hires

Over the years, Singapore has attracted a suite of biopharma majors, and Novartis is no exception.

Now, the Swiss drugmaker is upping its commitment there with plans for an antibody manufacturing expansion designed to address “soaring demand in the Asian market.”

Novartis on Friday said it broke ground on a $256 million expansion of its biopharmaceutical production facility in Singapore. The project will introduce digitalization and automation at the site in a bid to boost manufacturing productivity and to help upskill the company’s workforce.

The expansion has been pegged to create 100 new jobs and will “enhance the skills of Novartis’ current workforce,” the company explained in a press release.

The expanded site is expected to come online in 2026, Novartis’ president of operations, Steffen Lang, said in a statement. Once the plant is up and running, it will focus on cranking out antibody drugs for Novartis patients around the world.

Over the past several decades, Novartis says it’s invested more than $1 billion in Singapore to help “uplift the pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities of the nation.” The company established its first manufacturing site in the country back in 2002.

Novartis’ new project is reminiscent of AbbVie’s own expansion in Singapore, which the Chicago-based company unveiled in late January.

That expansion, which AbbVie has infused with $223 million, is also expected to create 100 new jobs in Singapore.

Novartis and AbbVie are in good company, too.

Back in December 2022, GSK, Sanofi and Takeda inked a production partnership with the Biologics Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (BioPIPS)—with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board—to boost the industry's biologics manufacturing footprint in the country.

That same year, Merck celebrated the opening of one plant in Singapore and broke ground on another. And CDMO WuXi Biologics set out on a major expansion on the island, although that company has recently faced headwinds from a new biosecurity push in the U.S.