Merck to create 370 Cork jobs

Merck to invest in two major life science projects over five years.

Science and technology player Merck is expanding its membrane and filtration manufacturing capabilities in Ireland.

The company will invest approximately €440m to increase membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill and to build a new manufacturing facility at Blarney Business Park, both in Cork, Ireland.

“The investment in Cork is the biggest site investment in the history of our Life Science business and will accelerate the delivery of the critical products, technologies and services our customers need to fight the world’s toughest health challenges, including Covid-19”

The investment, which is the largest in a single site ever for the life science business, will create more than 370 permanent jobs by the end of 2027.

“Ireland is central to our strategy to drive long-term growth and expand our global leadership position in life science,” said Matthias Heinzel, Member of the Executive Board of Merck, and CEO, Life Science.

“The investment in Cork is the biggest site investment in the history of our Life Science business and will accelerate the delivery of the critical products, technologies and services our customers need to fight the world’s toughest health challenges, including Covid-19.”

At Blarney Business Park, Merck is going to build a new filtration manufacturing facility for almost €150 million. Once fully operational, it will increase Merck’s global manufacturing capacity and supply customers producing both traditional and novel treatments and therapeutics. 

A design for life

Merck life sciences operations in Cork.

With the more than €290m expansion in Carrigtwohill, Merck is adding a manufacturing facility for the immersion casting of membranes.

These membranes support novel and gene therapies, as well as applications like virus sterilisation, plasma separation and finger prick rapid testing. The membranes also serve the Process Solutions business, which is one of the ‘Big 3’ growth drivers for Merck. Process Solutions markets products and services for the entire pharmaceutical manufacturing value chain.

Merck aims to increase its Group sales to approximately €25bn by 2025. To achieve this growth target, the company increased its total investments between 2021 and 2025 significantly compared with the period from 2016 to 2020.

“Today’s announcement of the decision to construct a new membrane manufacturing facility in Carrigtwohill and the development of a new filtration manufacturing facility in Blarney is a testament to the capability, hard work and dedication of all our colleagues here in Cork,” said Martin McAuliffe, managing director and Head of Cork Operations at Merck.

“Beyond that, it is a statement of Merck’s commitment to our Irish operations. These new investments secure a bright future for Merck in Cork and enable us to expand our capabilities here, generating new employment opportunities in future technology.”

The announcement follows a €36m investment at the same site in 2021 for a second lateral flow membrane manufacturing product line. Now formally open, this facility produces lateral flow membranes, most commonly used in rapid diagnostic testing for rare diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Ebola. They are also a key component in rapid antigen tests, which are used for the detection of Covid-19.

Merck’s Life Science business sector is continuing to invest in products and technologies across its portfolio that are key to manufacturing novel therapies and vaccines, including single-use solutions, high-potency active pharmaceutical ingredients (HP-APIs) and novel modalities, such as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and viral and gene therapies (VGTs).

Over the next five years, Merck will implement investment programmes worldwide. Target countries include Germany, China, France, Switzerland, Ireland and the USA. All expansion projects include clear targets for energy efficiency, water consumption and waste treatment to support Merck in meeting its goal to be carbon-neutral by 2040, in line with its sustainability strategy.

“This significant investment announced today by Merck – the largest the global Life Sciences and Technology business has ever made in a single site, is very welcome,” said Martin Shanahan, CEO, IDA Ireland.

“This announcement demonstrates the continued growth and success of Ireland’s Life Sciences sector and indeed IDA Ireland’s continued commitment to winning jobs and investment for regional locations. These developments in Carrigtwohill and Blarney will have a significant positive economic impact on the South West region, during the initial construction period and also with the number of full-time roles that will be created as a result of the expansion. Merck’s decision to increase its footprint is tangible evidence of the company’s confidence in Ireland’s ability to provide access to world-class talent.”

Recently, Merck announced expansion projects in its Life Science business sector in Wuxi, China; Darmstadt, Germany; Buchs, Switzerland; Molsheim, France, Carlsbad, California, USA; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Jaffrey, New Hampshire, USA; and Danvers, Massachusetts, USA. These expansions are part of an ambitious, multi-year programme to increase the industrial capacity and capabilities of Merck’s Life Science business sector to support the growing global demand for lifesaving medications and to make significant contributions to public health.

Speaking at the site’s official announcement, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I welcome today’s very significant announcement from Merck, which underlines the company’s commitment to doing business in Ireland.

“This investment, the largest in the history of Merck Life Science, speaks volumes about our capacity to provide the right conditions for multinational organisations to grow their operations. Ireland’s development of a strong life sciences ecosystem has been one of our greatest economic successes. I am delighted that Merck has chosen Cork for its latest investment. I wish the team continued success, as they work towards improving lives around the world.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.