- Merck KGaA will invest $70 million to expand its R&D hub in Billerica, Massachusetts, the company said Wednesday.
- The investment is part of the pharma's efforts to speed along its research in oncology and immunology, and will add new laboratory and work space to the existing site.
- The new building, which is set to be completed in 2021, will cover 145,000 square feet and be home to 400 new and existing employees. Over the past eight years, Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck has expanded its Billerica workforce by 150 people.
Merck KGaA has a foothold in the fast-growing immuno-oncology space with Bavencio (avelumab), an approved PD-L1 inhibitor developed in partnership with Pfizer. Yet it remains a minor player in a space dominated by Merck & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche.
Still, German Merck has ambitions to play a larger role — most recently evidenced by a major licensing deal it inked with GlaxoSmithKline for an investigational immuno-oncology drug.
Expanding the Billerica site will build out the company's physical footprint in oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.
Due to be completed in 2021, the expansion will include wet labs and new office space. The town of Billerica worked in collaboration with staff at German Merck to secure the expansion.
Including its plans to spend $70 million, Merck KGaA will have invested over $150 million in infrastructure in the state of Massachusetts, where it employs 2,800 staff across 10 locations. In 2016, the company began construction on a $115 million life science campus in Burlington, Massachusetts.
The drugmaker reinvests around a fifth of its total sales in R&D each year, although its budget falls well short of some larger drugmakers.