Merck KGaA fortifies its ‘site of the future’ with $319M research, staff training centers
Everything began in 1668, in Darmstadt, Germany — so goes Merck KGaA’s description of its global headquarters. And the conglomerate has been clear that it’s not going anywhere else, unveiling plans in 2019 to lavish $1.18 billion on the site over the coming years.
Merck KGaA has just mapped out another substantial chunk of that investment package.
The next stage involves pouring $319 million into two new institutions: a translational science center for scientists in its healthcare business unit, as well as a new learning center to onboard new employees.
“Darmstadt is our site of the future,” said Kai Beckmann, CEO of Merck KGaA’s electronics sector that is in charge of the site. “With these investments, we are underscoring the strategic importance of the site and our focus on sustainability and innovative ways of working.”
Merck KGaA has been on a bit of an aggressive spending spree. On top of expansions at R&D and manufacturing sites in Japan and France, the company has snapped up a CDMO in efforts to boost its mRNA production capacity and prepare for newly pent-up demand amid Covid-19. That’s not to mention the pacts with F-star, Debiopharm and other biotechs designed to polish a checkered record on the drug development front.
For a price tag of $236 million, the new translation science center can house more than 500 researchers, who will have access to “a café, a lecture hall, in vitro laboratories including a cell bank, as well as a modern and flexible knowledge environment” as they work on “identification of disease biomarkers to the development of targeted therapies.”
The research facility, like other new parts of the Darmstadt campus, is expected to be completed by 2025.
The rest of the money goes to a new building, complete with laboratories, seminar rooms and workshops, that will house all vocational training. Currently, Merck KGaA’s vocational training department has 50 employees — and they are the ones tasked with preparing the company’s 600 apprentices for their eventual assignments.
They should be able to move in around 2024, according to the company.