Merck ex­pan­sion spells great news for Ayr­shire

Ayrshire Post - - BUSINESS -

Ground has been bro­ken at the £ 1.3m ex­pan­sion of Merck’s Irvine cell cul­ture me­dia pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity.

The project has been hailed of “vi­tal im­por­tance” to the firm’s global net­work as it is the only fa­cil­ity to pro­duce both liq­uid and pow­der cell cul­ture me­dia.

The site cur­rently sup­ports 170 jobs – a num­ber that is grow­ing at some 20 per cent per year.

It is hoped the new ex­pan­sion will al­low Merck to sup­ply an ad­di­tional two mil­lion litres of spe­cialised me­dia to the global health­care in­dus­try, build­ing on the £ 20m in­vest­ment in 2015 for a dry pow­der fa­cil­ity.

Cell cul­ture me­dia are the “food” that pro­mote the growth of cells which are crit­i­cal in the pro­duc­tion of bi­o­log­i­cal drugs and vac­cines.

And Irvine will be sup­ply­ing ma­te­ri­als for cut­ting edge medicines for dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s, in ad­di­tion to its ex­ist­ing ma­te­ri­als pro­duc­tion for rheuma­toid arthri­tis, can­cer, flu, di­a­betes and de­men­tia medicines.

MP Philippa Whit­ford said: “I’m de­lighted to break ground on Merck’s new ca­pa­bil­ity, which will be in­stru­men­tal in the site’s con­tin­ued growth in the pro­duc­tion of cell cul­ture me­dia.

“Merck’s pres­ence is vi­tally im­por­tant to Irvine and the wider Ayr­shire economy and the site is a prime ex­am­ple of a bur­geon­ing lo­cal in­dus­try with global im­por­tance.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly proud the con­stituency is at the fore­front of the cell cul­ture me­dia pro­duc­tion and other ma­te­ri­als that sup­port the de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing of crit­i­cally im­por­tant drugs and vac­cines for some of the most preva­lent and sig­nif­i­cant dis­eases of our time.”

David Buck­lin, Irvine Site di­rec­tor, added: “Since the ini­tial in­vest­ment in the dry pow­der pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in 2015, the site has gone from strength to strength.

“This year we will ship 150 tonnes of dry pow­der, which is a 36 per cent in­crease in vol­ume on 2016.

“We will also ship 2.7 mil­lion litres of liq­uid me­dia.

“Our suc­cess is highly de­pen­dent on be­ing able to re­cruit lo­cally.

“We’re pleased to have a strong part­ner­ship with the Univer­sity of the West of Scot­land who for the past four years we have run 12 week place­ments with stu­dents from their Ap­plied Bio­science with Foren­sic In­ves­ti­ga­tion de­gree.

“We have also re­cently started in­ves­ti­gat­ing en­gi­neer­ing ap­pren­tice­ships and hope to work with another univer­sity in the com­ing year or so to set this up.”

Break­ing ground The of­fi­cial cer­e­mony at Merck

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