Merck KGaA to build Asia-Pacific bioprocessing center

Germany’s Merck has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) with the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) to build a facility in Daejeon City.

Merck KGaA said the proposed bioprocessing plant would support commercial manufacturing for biotech and pharmaceutical clients across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) area. Additionally, the firm claimed it plans to work alongside the Daejeon government to support biotech companies that are based in the Daedeok Research complex in Daejeon. Moreover, the collaboration aims to advance the bio-research activities with various Korean universities.

“This potential investment is a direct result of our evolved life science strategy, focused on strengthening our core business and expanding in high growth areas. That includes raising our ambition in APAC to enhance our support level across the region and share technological expertise with customers amid growth,” a spokesperson for the company told BioProcess Insider.


“With this in mind, we have assessed a number of countries in detail, based on the evaluation of critical factors. That includes market dynamics, operational consideration, qualified talent, and government-related factors, such as political stability, policy, and regulatory landscape. With a thriving life science industry and ecosystem, well-established infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce, Korea is a great fit for a potential investment to further grow and support our Life Science business in the APAC region.”

Financial details, the expected opening date, and number of staff at the facility remains under wraps because “this is currently a prospective investment only, we cannot provide any further specific focus areas, such as customer segments, until the details of the project have been finalized.”

The facility will likely be run by MilliporeSigma, the life sciences division of Germany’s Merck.

Last year, Merck bolstered its messenger RNA (mRNA) offerings through the $780 million acquisition of contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) Exelead. And in May 2022, the firm invested $470 million to build facilities to increase filtration equipment and membrane capacity at sites in Cork, Ireland.

Two months later, Lotte Corporation signed an MoU with MilliporeSigma to support its burgeoning US-based CDMO business.

Korean hub

Other biotech companies have been investing in capabilities in South Korea.  In July 2021, Thermo Fisher opened its Bioprocess Design Center (BDC) to support biomanufacturing in the region and In July 2021, Thermo Fisher opened its Bioprocess Design Center (BDC) to support biomanufacturing in the region and last October Sartorius signed a land purchase agreement with the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority (IFEZ) to bring its biomanufacturing portfolio to the robust Korean market.

Moreover, in January Lotte Biologics announced it would invest $3 billion over the next seven years to construct three ‘mega’ plants in Korea with a production capacity of 360,000 L.