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The bio-pharmacy giant MSD invests 400 Mio. € in a state-of-the-art production plant in Lower Austria. CEO Dr. Martin Kern was on hand to answer our questions.
MSD (called Merck & Co in USA and Canada) is one of the biggest bio pharmacy corporations on the globe with headquarter in New Jersey, USA. The company employs 74.000 people, operates in 140 countries and generated a turnover of 48 billion Dollars in 2020. With a strong focus on innovation, MSD invests more than 25% of their annual revenue on research and development for their pharmaceuticals, vaccines and animal health products.
After decades of successfully operating in Austria, the company decided to invest in a third Austrian production facility. MSD bought a company premise in Krems, Lower Austria and founded the “MSD AH Danube Biotech GmbH” in 2017.
Today – four years later – CEO Dr. Martin Kern took the time to answer our questions about the background & current status of that exciting project and to provide a brief outlook on the future of the MSD site in 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 and did meet the space requirements for the installation of our production platforms of bacterial and viral antigens as well as vaccine compounding, and therefore supported a positive decision by the MSD Board of Directors.”
“Austria, known as a political and economy wise stable European country, was an important factor to drive the decision as well as the unique situation with Krems. A small town, compared internationally, equipped with an interesting infrastructure and the availability of 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 allows ease of access to the relevant authorities and short ways up to the competent bodies at the Lower Austrian Government. Certainly, when you execute a project of an investment size of approx. 400M EUR, there is a significant administrative workload in submission to authorities and getting the required authorizations. In Krems and in Lower Austria we felt from the first day to be very welcomed and there was great support by authorities and the city of Krems. “
“Per today we have 195 Employees and additional 26 employees of contractors permanently working at site. Considering that we started at zero in August 2017, I feel very proud about the organisation we established and what we able to achieve. COVID-19 impacted our progress in our projects and that also resulted in deferral of recruitment accordingly. At year end we expect to have approx. 230 employees on board.”
“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.”
“The COVID-19 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.”
“The capital projects started will be completed by the end of next year (2022). What follows, is a large number of product transfers out of our MSD-network into 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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