Merck expansion spells great news for Ayrshire
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