WuXi ploughs ahead with ‘world’s largest’ single-use facility

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Oleksii Liskonih)
(Image: Getty/Oleksii Liskonih)

Related tags Wuxi biologics China Ireland Single-use technology

WuXi Biologics has selected its construction partner, Jacobs, for the building stage of its ‘Factory of the Future’ facility in Dundalk, Ireland.

The Chinese-headquartered contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) announced that it would build its first manufacturing facility outside of China at the end of last year​.

Once completed, the facility will have the largest capacity for the production of biologics in Ireland and will be the world’s largest to utilise single-use bioreactors.

Jacobs Buildings, a US-based construction company, was announced as the partner of choice for WuXi to build out the facility, which will span 64 acres.

The cost of the work is estimated to be €350m ($394m) and the investment will create 400 jobs over five years, as well as 700 temporary construction jobs until site completion.

Ken Gilmartin, SVP of infrastructure and advanced facility at Jacobs, said, "WuXi has given us the opportunity to deliver a state-of-the art project to help them serve a global patient population, while furthering the ambition to make Ireland a global centre of excellence in biologics, driving investment in County Louth and creating highly skilled jobs.”

The facility will have 48,000L fed-batch and 6,000L perfusion of capacity. It will also be able to operate continuous bioprocessing using selected single-use cell culture and fixed stainless-steel elements for purification.

According to the company, the project is set for completion in 2021.

Factory of the Future

The European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA) set out a ‘Factories of the Future Roadmap’​ in March 2019, which WuXi plans to follow in the construction of its Dundalk facility.

The roadmap specifies five key priorities for such a facility:

  • Excellent, responsible and smart manufacturing systems
  • Low environmental footprint and circular economy
  • Customer-driven value networks
  • Parallel product and manufacturing engineering
  • Human-driven innovation

In terms of what will be offered to customers, WuXi announced that “The Irish facility will use bioreactors to manufacture biologics drug substances on a round-the-clock basis, with the ability to quickly switch product lines in response to customer requirements.”

The company also points towards its use of large-scale, single-use technology as ‘greatly enhancing commercial manufacturing potential’.

WuXi expansion continues

WuXi is also expanding capabilities in the country of its headquarters, China, with a recently announced site​ covering 1.3m-square-feet that will possess bioreactor capacity of 144,000L.

However, the company, with its first facility outside of China, is also looking to international markets. Regarding the decision to house the facility in Ireland, the CEO of WuXi Biologics, Chris Chen, told us previously that it was an attractive location due to its proximity to the rest of Europe​ and is preferred to the country due to the UK’s imminent exit from the European Union.

The project to bring the facility to Ireland was supported by IDA Ireland.

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