MilliporeSigma pumps $470m into Ireland filtration plants

Merck Life Science – aka MilliporeSigma – will build facilities to increase filtration equipment and membrane capacity at sites in Cork, Ireland.

The total investment is split between two facilities in Cork, with a new filtration manufacturing facility being built at Blarney Business Park for €150 million ($160 million) and €290 million being invested in nearby Carrigtwohill for a manufacturing plant supporting the immersion casting of membranes.

From Carrigtwohill, the first commercial products will be produced in 2026. “At full utilization, this investment will allow us to roughly double our membrane capacity in Cork,” a spokesperson from the business – known as MilliporeSigma in North America and the Life Science business of Merck KGaA elsewhere – told this publication. “These membranes support novel and gene therapies, as well as applications like virus sterilisation, plasma separation and finger prick rapid testing.”

For Blarney, the first commercial products are set to be produced in 2024 awith an expected capacity increase of about 30%. “Once fully operational, it will increase the company’s global manufacturing capacity and supply customers producing both traditional and novel treatments and therapeutics,” we were told.

The decision to invest was due to the high growth rate for life science products, which the firm told us had been growing at a double-digit rate, even before the pandemic. “However, given the important role we play as a key supplier in the life science industry, our expansion plans were accelerated in 2020 and 2021 to support our customers’ needs for the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as other life-saving therapies.”

The two plants will create than 370 permanent jobs by the end of 2027, demonstrating MilliporeSigma’s commitment to Ireland.

“Ireland is central to our strategy to drive long-term growth and expand our global leadership position in Life Science,” the spokesperson said. “The Cork site is a key location for our business and one of the fastest-growing globally. This is the largest investment ever at one single site for our Life Science business, showing the importance of Cork in our global network and to deliver world-class, quality products for our customers.”

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Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin said during the site’s official announcement the investment “speaks volumes about [Ireland’s] capacity to provide the right conditions for multinational organizations to grow their operations.”

The planned capital expenditure comes a year after MilliporeSigma ploughed €36 million into Carrigtwohill to meet global demand for its lateral flow membrane.

It also comes on the back of a number of ongoing CAPEX project, some of which were expedited due to strong demand from COVID-19, including an expansion of a single-use plant in Molsheim, France and $47 million worth of investments at sites in Massachusetts.