SOUTH KOREA – Samsung Biologics and Novartis have signed an initial US$81 million contract manufacturing and development agreement, marking the first time the two companies have collaborated.

Samsung Biologics disclosed the agreement in a regulatory filing on Monday. The company did not specify which of Novartis’ medicines it will be working on, but stated that more information will be shared in the future.

According to the regulatory filing, the transaction represents 6.4 percent of Samsung Biologics’ 1.57 trillion South Korean won (US$1.25 billion) in annual sales last year.

Working with Novartis as a manufacturing partner fits well with Samsung Biologics’ aggressive plans to expand its CDMO ambitions.

Earlier this year, the company announced a three-pronged approach to field growth, including increased capacity, portfolio diversification, and expanding its footprint outside of South Korea.

In addition, 2021 was the year in which Samsung laid the groundwork for its mRNA business. The company cited a fill-finish agreement with Moderna for its COVID-19 vaccine, as well as an mRNA vaccine manufacturing agreement with GreenLight Biosciences.

Back home, Samsung announced that its massive plant 4 at Songdo in Incheon, South Korea, will be operational six months ahead of schedule.

By the fourth quarter, the plant will be able to support operations of up to 10,000 liters, and 15,000 liters by the middle of next year.

Once fully operational, the plant will have a massive 620,000-liter capacity, which Samsung claims will help it cement its position as “the world’s largest CDMO.”

Samsung also has big plans for Plant 5, where it plans to build a new facility for multimodal product services like cell and gene therapies, as well as next-generation vaccines using mRNA, plasmid DNA, and viral vectors, by 2022.

Plant 5 will be built in addition to an mRNA vaccine drug substance manufacturing suite that is expected to be operational at Samsung’s existing Songdo facility “early this year.”

Samsung Biologics recent milestones

Meanwhile, the company has been gaining traction on a number of fronts. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the company increased revenue by 18% to 444.3 billion South Korean won (approximately US$371 million).

For the fiscal year, the CDMO earned approximately 1.57 trillion South Korean won (about US$1.31 billion).

Furthermore, the company announced in April that its new “Super Plant” in Korea will be ready six months ahead of schedule.

The company also announced that it had purchased an additional 350,000 square meters of land, increasing the size of its current campus by 30%.

The South Korea-based Samsung also announced its plans to invest 450 trillion won (almost $355 billion USD) last month through 2026 into its core businesses.

The vast majority of the investment, US$285 billion, will be made in South Korea. The company expects to create 80,000 new jobs through 2026, “or about 16,000 positions annually,” according to a statement.

Samsung had previously stated that it intended to create 40,000 jobs between 2021 and 2023. The investment plan includes a 30% increase over the previous five years’ spending.

Liked this article? Sign up to receive our regular email newsletters, focused on Africa and World’s healthcare industry, directly into your inbox. SUBSCRIBE HERE