Business & Tech

Chinese biopharma company will build $60 million plant in Worcester

A chemist worked in a WuXi Pharma Tech lab in Wuxi, China.
Bloomberg News/File
A chemist worked in a WuXi Pharma Tech lab in Wuxi, China.

WuXi Biologics, a Chinese biopharma company hired by drug makers to develop, test, and manufacture medicines, plans to build a $60 million plant in Worcester that will employ about 150 people.

It will be the company’s 11th global manufacturing facility and its first in the United States.

“Metropolitan Boston is acknowledged as a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry,” Dr. Ge Li, chairman of WuXi Biologics, said. “The new site plays a key role in WuXi Biologics’s global biomanufacturing network.”

Advertisement

Li gave no timetable for opening the plant but said, “We believe we can quickly push forward this exciting project.”

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

WuXi, which is based in Shanghai, called the plant a “facility of the future” that will run continuously and deploy “single-use bioreactors.” Such bioreactors typically have a disposable bag instead of a culture vessel, reducing the need for cleaning and sterilization and resulting in lower costs.

The new facility received financial incentives from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center — the state agency that uses tax dollars to grow the life sciences sector — the nonprofit Worcester Business Development Corporation and the City of Worcester.

The life sciences center is providing a $5 million capital grant to finance construction at Worcester Biomanufacturing Park, which will be the site of the plant. The park is on the grounds of the former Worcester State Hospital. In early 2017, Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation that allowed Worcester to buy 44 acres there to develop for biomanufacturing.

“The City of Worcester is thrilled to welcome WuXi Biologics as its first tenant to the new Biomanufacturing Park,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said.

Advertisement

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who spent a decade representing neighboring Shrewsbury in the House of Representatives, said she recently met executives from WuXi Biologics who visited Worcester. Polito said she was “confident that they will contribute greatly to the city’s life sciences industry.”

The plant will be WuXi’s third business site outside of China. WuXi also has operations in Ireland and Singapore.

The move is part of a trend by Chinese biopharma companies to expand their vision, and their operations, globally by tapping into the thriving Massachusetts life sciences hub.

Other Chinese companies that have set up shop in Massachusetts recently include Qilu Pharmaceutical Co. of Jinan, which opened the area’s first Chinese-owned biotech incubator in Brighton, the Qilu Boston Innovation Center.

Jonathan Saltzman
can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com.