Construction begins on €325m WuXi Biologics plant in Dundalk

23 May 20193.21k Views

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Image: Ken Finegan/Newspics Photography

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Dundalk plant aims to become the world’s largest single-use biologics manufacturing facility.

Work has begun on the new €325m start-of-the-art WuXi Biologics facility in Dundalk. The facility is beginning to take structural form as steel erection begins at the 52-acre campus site.

Last year Siliconrepublic.com reported how WuXi Biologics was set to invest €325m and create 400 jobs over five years in Dundalk.

‘This will enable us to move ahead with the installation of the processing plant and equipment to bring us into full commercial production on schedule by 2022’
– BRENDAN MCGRATH

Work is on schedule for the new contract manufacturing biologics facility, which, at 48,000 sq m in size, is set to become the world’s largest single-use biologics manufacturing facility.

Planning approval for the facility was confirmed in mid-January. Since then, about 200,000 tonnes of earth have been moved and relocated within the site during development works, while 2,900 cubic metres of concrete have been poured for foundations. In all, more than 5,000 tonnes of steel sourced from an Irish supplier have arrived on site to enable steelworks to get underway.

The rapidly advancing schedule will see the number of construction workers on site increase from 120 at present to 500 by year end. Peak construction employment for the project will reach 2,000.

“The project is truly moving at ‘WuXi speed’ and we are delighted with progress to date,” said WuXi Biologics Ireland site head and vice-president of manufacturing, Brendan McGrath.

“Cladding work will commence at the end of July and we are on target to have all of the buildings weather-tight by January. This will enable us to move ahead with the installation of the processing plant and equipment to bring us into full commercial production on schedule by 2022.”

Factory of the future

Construction of a new pharmaceutical factory using a yellow crane, steel structure under a blue sky.

Erecting structural steel on the Wuxi Ireland DK2 manufacturing building in Dundalk. Image: Ken Finegan/Newspics Photography

WuXi Biologics is China’s leading end-to-end biologics solutions provider and the Dundalk campus is to be its first manufacturing facility outside China.

Biologics drugs represent a new frontier in medicine. They are developed in bioreactors from genetically engineered microbes, within living cell culture. This is a highly complex process that involves the production of fragile substances at heavy cost.

“The production of highly specialised biologics medicines often involves the manufacture of relatively small quantities of highly specialised drugs,” McGrath explained.

“Generally, it is neither practical nor economic to manufacture small volumes of specialist biologics medicines in traditional large-scale biopharma facilities. Instead, the single-use technology and processes which we will create in our new Dundalk campus will allow for cost-efficient scale-out of contract manufacturing biologics production from small to large volumes as required.”

This advanced technology will establish a ‘factory of the future’ in Dundalk and reinforce Ireland’s leading position globally in biologics manufacturing.

“The new facility is designed to employ high-performance, single-use biologics manufacturing technology, and will have the capability to run multiple batches simultaneously, delivering biologics medicines at a significantly lower cost than is possible using traditional systems,” McGrath added.

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com