$50 Million Serono Expansion to Create 100 New Massachusetts Jobs

Xconomy Boston — 

The pharmaceutical company EMD Serono today announced that it is investing $50 million in building a new research center in Billerica, MA.

Construction will begin early next year. When the center is ready in 2010 it will house 200 scientists doing research in cancer and fertility as well as in medicinal chemistry and protein engineering. That translates into an expansion of around 100 jobs, both in research, process development, and protein manufacturing.

EMD Serono is the U.S. affiliate of Merck Serono, which has global headquarters in Switzerland. “We are eager to invest and build relations with the academic and biotech environment here which is pretty unique,” says Bernhard Kirschbaum, Merck Serono’s head of research. “We need people with different background and skills, from the technology freaks that you need to be innovative, to the pharmacologists, to the people who can bring the drugs into production and to the market.”

The discovery center will be built close to the company’s protein factory, which makes substances for early stage clinical testing. The factory was one reason why the Billerica site was chosen for the expansion, the proximity makes it easier to collaborate and transfer projects from research into manufacturing, according to the company.

Merck Serono is owned by the big German pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck KGaA, not to be confused with Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck & Co. The later was in fact the German company’s U.S. subsidiary up until 1917.

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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