Sartorius has cited South Korea’s “very stable market” as a key driver in its €270 million ($292 million) investment in a production site in the region.

Dan Stanton, Managing editor

January 31, 2024

2 Min Read

Sartorius has cited South Korea’s “very stable market” as a key driver in its €270 million ($292 million) investment in a production site in the region.

For the full year 2023, bioprocess vendor Sartorius reported sales of €3.4 billion, down 18.7% on the previous year. This represents the continuing “soft demand” following several years of unprecedented sales during the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing macroeconomic factors, the company said.

“2023 was a very unusual and challenging year for our industry,” said Sartorius CEO Joachim Kreuzburg. “Customer destocking and other factors such as very weak demand in China had a longer and more pronounced impact on the business than initially anticipated. We therefore ended the year with a decline in sales revenue, while profitability remained at a healthy level and above the pre-pandemic mark due to an adjusted cost base.”

The firm expects a return to profitable growth in 2024, but one major driver to help this will be the company’s presence in the Korean market.

There have been “major strategic investment in capacities in Songdo in South Korea,” Rene Faber, head of Bioprocess Solutions Division at Sartorius, said on its Q4 investment call. “It's close to the largest installed cell culture capacity in the world.”

The Songdo, Incheon region of Korea is home to biomanufacturing giants Samsung Biologics, Celltrion, and others. Samsung Biologics has grown considerably over the past few years and now has four manufacturing facilities boasting roughly 700,000 L of mammalian cell culture capacity, with a fifth facility under construction. Celltrion, meanwhile, boasts 190,000 L of bioreactor capacity across two biomanufacturing facilities but a third, and potentially fourth, drug substance plant will raise this to 600,000 L.

As such, in October 2022, Sartorius laid down €270 million to bring its biomanufacturing portfolio to the region through a land purchase agreement with the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority (IFEZ).

Bioprocess equipment manufacturing plants, as well as facilities for R&D in biopharmaceutical process, are currently under construction at the site. The site will also comprise an application and training center with laboratories and logistics services.

“We will produce all major consumables like cell culture media, bags, filters, and also run product process development and customer training laboratory serving not only Korean, but also Asian market outside, mostly outside China,” Faber told investors.

Kreuzburg added Sartorius considers Korea to be a “very stable market to run such operations,” and already boasts a number of customers in the region.

About the Author(s)

Dan Stanton

Managing editor

Journalist covering the international biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing industries.

Founder and editor of Bioprocess Insider, a daily news offshoot of publication Bioprocess International, with expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, in particular, the following niches: CROs, CDMOs, M&A, IPOs, biotech, bioprocessing methods and equipment, drug delivery, regulatory affairs and business development.

From London, UK originally but currently based in Montpellier, France through a round-a-bout adventure that has seen me live and work in Leeds (UK), London, New Zealand, and China.

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