Two months after announcing plans to build a $2 billion cell culture manufacturing facility in the United States, Fujifilm has finally revealed the location—Holly Springs, NC, a 25-minute car-ride south of Research Triangle Park (RTP) and the company’s existing campus in the Tar Heel State.
Fujifilm’s biologics contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) subsidiary, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, will operate the new manufacturing site, which according to the company will be the largest facility of its kind in North America.
The facility is projected to create 725 jobs by the end of 2028. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies already bases over 600 jobs at RTP (Morrisville, NC, address), its largest of four facilities worldwide.
The company opened its RTP site in 1996, on a campus that has since expanded to include three buildings that house the company’s Process Development and Analytical Laboratories, cGMP Manufacturing Facility, and Administration.
“We are passionate about the tremendous value that this new facility will bring to our partners in producing life-impacting therapies,” Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies CEO Martin Meeson said in a statement.
As it did in disclosing plans for the facility on January 6, Fujifilm said that the new facility will offer large-scale cell culture manufacturing of bulk drug substance production with 8 x 20,000 L bioreactors, and the potential to expand by adding a further 24 x 20,000 L bioreactors based on market demand.
The facility will also provide commercial scale, automated fill-finish and assembly, packaging, and labeling services—and is expected to be operational by spring 2025, Fujifilm said.
The Holly Springs facility is Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ latest move toward expanding its production capacity and capabilities. Over the past year, the company:
- Broke ground on a $928 million cell culture expansion project in Hillerød, Denmark.
- Announced a new $76 million facility at the Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing in Watertown, MA, designed to advance R&D in cell and gene therapy, gene editing, immunotherapy, and biotechnology.
- Broke ground on a $55 million Advanced Therapies Innovation Center in College Station, TX.
$21.7M in state grants
North Carolina has awarded a total of $21.7 million in economic development incentive grants toward the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies facility. The state’s Economic Investment Committee approved a Job Development Investment Grant of more than $19.7 million spread over 12 years, with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies required in return to invest $1.5 billion in capital in the new facility and meet incremental hiring targets.
Over those 12 years, new state tax revenues generated by the new jobs will exceed $160 million, according to the office of Gov. Roy Cooper (R), whose office joined Fujifilm in announcing the new facility.
North Carolina also awarded the company a $2 million grant through its One North Carolina Fund, a discretionary cash-grant program through which the Governor’s Office can quickly fund job-creation projects for which the state is competing with other states.
Holly Springs, Fujifilm said, was a leader among U.S. communities in addressing environmental and social issues—among factors drawing the company there. The city’s Strategic Plan, which lays out goals and development priorities, commits Holly Springs to “support land use planning and policies that provide for sustainable and economic growth while balancing small town characteristics.” The city has also developed a reclaimed water system designed to facilitate sustainable industrial growth, and has identified life sciences and biomanufacturing as a key industry for attraction.
Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies said it will design and build a sustainable facility targeting 100% clean energy use, plus waste disposal and recycling consistent with its goal.
“Fujifilm will contribute to realizing a sustainable society by collaborating with the Holly Springs community and stimulating the local economy, and further, by accelerating ‘resolving social issues through business,’” Fujifilm Corp. president Kenji Sukeno stated.
That approach, Fujifim said, aligns with its Sustainable Value Plan 2030, the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) plan articulating goals the company has committed to achieving by the end of 2030, the third quarter of Fujifilm’s 2031 fiscal year.
“Building for the future”
“This is building for the future, both in infrastructure and in talent, as part of the vibrant North Carolina biotech hub,” Meeson added.
That hub has centered around RTP and the cities of Raleigh and Durham, and has grown over the past half-century into a regional cluster ranked ninth by GEN in its updated A-List of “Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters,” published March 10.
Many of the region’s life sciences attractions and expansions have been gene and cell therapy facilities by Astellas Pharma-owned Audentes Therapeutics (Sanford, NC), Bluebird Bio (Durham), Novartis Gene Therapies (formerly AveXis; RTP), and Pfizer (Sanford). The region also has manufacturing sites planned by Eli Lilly (pharmaceuticals, RTP) and Grifols (blood plasma, Clayton, NC).
Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ decision to locate in Holly Springs, in southern Wake County, “extends the reach and economic impact of the state’s life science clusters,” said Melissa Smith, vice president of business recruitment for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, a nonprofit public-private partnership operating under contract with North Carolina’s Department of Commerce. The Partnership helped recruit the project on the state’s behalf.
“We expect such a large project will draw employees from nearby counties such as Lee, Harnett, Johnston, and Chatham,” Smith added.
Among Holly Springs’ biopharma strengths is the presence of a cell culture-based influenza vaccine developer, Seqirus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSL. The company operates a 185-acre, $1 billion+ plant built by Novartis in 2014 with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help combat pandemic threats. A year later, CSL bought Novartis’ influenza vaccine business for $275 million and acquired the facility as a result.