Korean conglomerate SK takes out stake in cell and gene therapy CDMO with plans for a major hiring spree outside Philly
A Pennsylvania CDMO specializing in cell and gene therapy manufacturing is receiving a big influx of cash from a South Korean drugmaker — and it has plans for a major hiring spree.
SK, the holding company of SK bioscience, will invest $350 million of equity financing into the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, with plans to add an additional 2,000 employees as part of a redux at the CDMO’s King of Prussia, PA facility.
CBM will use the funds to add automation to its manufacturing operations from pre-clinical all the way through commercial scale. That includes process development, viral vector manufacturing, cell processing, plasmid DNA and cell banking, it said. The company will bring 700,000 additional square feet of capacity online and hire staff members for its site outside Philadelphia. The space will be run by The Discovery Labs.
The deal has been in the works since last January. It comes eight months after SK’s takeover of the French gene and cell therapy company Yposkesi.
CBM was established in 2019. It announced over the summer that it would invest $132 million in production capacity in mRNA and viral vector operations in a project set to be operational by 2024. That expansion will add more than 1 million square feet of production space in Andong, South Korea, and was the first site in the country to get the OK for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing on the continent.
“We chose to partner with SK based on our shared deep desire to cure cancer and eradicate genetic disease,” CBM chairman Brian O’Neill said in a statement. “Thousands of people are dying every day, and we have the ability to cure patients by manufacturing these new technologies.
The move is a step in the right direction for SK Pharmteco to become a top-tier CDMO by 2025, Dong Hoon Lee, the EVP of SK, said in a statement.
In August, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that he hopes the country can become one of the five largest manufacturing bases in the world by 2025. Moon added biotech manufacturing to the list of national strategic technologies along with semiconductors and batteries and offers tax breaks for those companies to help pay for materials, parts and equipment.