Fujifilm to invest $500m+ in UK CDMO business

Fujifilm Corp has confirmed £400 ($532) million of a previously announced investment program will be spent expanding its CDMO operations in Billingham, UK.

According to a plan unveiled today Fujifilm will double the sites development and manufacturing capabilities, establish both a viral gene therapy facility and a mammalian cell culture facility and create up to 350 jobs.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies will also build a cell culture facility and ramp up antibody-based therapeutics production capacity through the addition of four 2,000 L and two 500 L bioreactors. The firm also plans to install its “MaruX” continuous manufacturing platform at the expanded site.

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The plan will also add viral vector, gene therapy, vaccine and mRNA production capacity according to the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), which said the expanded facility would complement existing sites in College Station, Texas and Watertown, Massachusetts – both in the US.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ CEO Martin Meeson described the plan as “the largest investment in British biopharmaceutical manufacturing for decades,” citing growing demand for microbial, cell culture and viral gene therapy services as the driver.

Transatlantic investments

The CDMO’s parent company announced plans to invest ¥90 billion ($800 million) in June, explaining it would increase capacity for biologics including recombinant vaccines for COVID-19 and advanced gene therapies.

UK Prime Minister, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, said the investment “will enable the expansion of the Billingham campus and create 350 new jobs – attracting the best innovators and researchers and bolstering our Life Sciences industry as we build back better from the pandemic.”

The UK investment plan comes months after Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies started work on a large scale cell culture production facility in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

The US site will offer bulk drug substance production capacity as well as commercial-scale, automated fill-finish and assembly, packaging, and labelling services. It is expected to create 725 jobs.

UK Government vaccine center

In related news, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies did not respond when asked about rumors it has made a bid to buy the UK’s Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Center (VMIC) in Oxford.

The Financial Times (paywall) reported this week the center, which has received more than £200 million in public funding as part of its efforts to deal with future epidemics, has been put up for sale due to pharma’s response to COVID-19 meaning there is now a lack of need for a state-sponsored vaccine production center.

A VMIC spokesperson could not “comment on speculation or any commercial discussions,” but told us: “We remain committed to ensuring that VMIC delivers against the objectives it was established for, ultimately, accelerating vaccine development, strengthening UK resilience, and providing long-term manufacturing capability for the UK.”

Lonza – another CDMO cited by the Financial Times as a potential bidder on the site – did not comment on its alleged bid.

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