Success Story: MSD Animal Health
The bio-pharmacy giant MSD invests 400 Mio. € in a state-of-the-art production plant in Lower Austria. Plant lead Dr Martin Kern was kind to answer our questions.
Who is MSD?
MSD (known as Merck & Co Inc. in USA and Canada) is a leading global biopharmaceutical company with headquarter in New Jersey, USA. The company employs 74.000 people, operates in 150 countries and generated a turnover of 48 billion Dollars in 2020. With a strong focus on science, prevention, and innovation, MSD invests more than 25% of their annual revenue in research and development for their pharmaceuticals, vaccines, health management solutions and services as well as an extensive suite of digitally connected identification, traceability and monitoring products.
After decades of successfully operating in Austria, the company decided to invest in a second Austrian production facility. MSD Animal Health acquired a site in Krems, Lower Austria, and founded the “MSD AH Danube Biotech GmbH” in 2017.
Today – four years later – Site Director and General Manger, Dr Martin Kern, took the time to answer our questions about the background and current status of that exciting project and to provide a brief outlook on the future of the MSD Animal Health site in Krems.
Dr. Kern, why did MSD finally decide on the location in Lower Austria / Krems?
“The unique opportunity for MSD was the possibility of acquiring a pharmaceutical production site, that was built for the production of antigens and vaccines, with the basic infrastructure and supply systems already developed. In addition, the larger part of the production building was still not developed, however, did meet the space requirements for the installation of our production platforms of bacterial and viral antigens as well as vaccine compounding.
Which factors were particularly decisive?
“Austria, known as a politically and economically stable European and EU country, was an important factor to drive the decision as well as the unique situation we found in Krems. A small town, compared internationally, equipped with a very good infrastructure and the availability of well-skilled labour driven by the medical and biotech focus of the University (IMC FH Krems) as well as the Lower Austrian ECOPLUS network. The size of Krems also enables quick and good cooperation with local authorities as well as the competent bodies at the Lower Austrian government. Certainly, when you execute a project of an investment size of approx. 400 million EUR, there is a significant administrative workload regarding submissions to authorities and getting the required authorizations. In Krems and in Lower Austria we felt very welcome from the very beginning and we experienced great support by authorities and the city of Krems. “
How many employees does MSD Animal Health currently have at the site in Krems?
“Per today we have 195 Employees and additional 26 contractors’ employees permanently working at site. Considering that we started at zero in August 2017, I feel very proud about the organisation we were able to establish. The pandemic impacted the progress in our projects and that also resulted in deferral of recruitment accordingly. At year end 2021, we expect to have approx. 230 employees on board.”
How many jobs are to be created in total at the site in Krems?
“In total we plan with 300 – 350 employees, where the variance depends on the shift-pattern we will need to implement. The new and modern process installations, utilities and equipment come with a high degree of automation, which affects the respective job profiles in manufacturing compared to the experience we have at the other sites in the MSD network.”
Has the announced start of production in 2020 been satisfactory?
“The pandemic has impacted the timelines of our projects and the start-up of the new installations significantly. We face a delay of approx. 6 months and should be able to mitigate all resulting challenges by end of this year.”
Is the full commissioning of the production facility in 2025 still on track?
“The capital projects will be completed by the end of next year (2022). What follows, is a large number of product transfers out of our MSD-network to Krems, which will require submissions to change and modify the existing health authority registrations for these products. In 2025, we will be able to have a considerable number of approvals granted, allowing a first significant volume of products getting channelled through our supply chain.”
Another successful investment project with a promising future in Lower Austria.
We thank Dr. Martin Kern for sharing MSD’s success story with us.
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