New Year, New Spaces: Groundbreakings Galore in Carlsbad

December 21, 2020

Several Companies Expand Footprint and Job Openings.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has left offices empty across America, several Carlsbad companies have announced plans to expand in 2021. In fact, some local businesses are kicking off the new year with blueprints in hand, injecting fresh opportunities and job prospects into the region after a trying economic year. While uncertainty is still in the air amidst the pandemic, we know scaffolding is on the horizon. 

MilliporeSigma, a well-known Carlsbad company, is one of two biotech companies with expansion plans in 2021. Adding additional 140,000-square feet of space to its existing facility, MilliporeSigma has invested $100 million to accommodate greater viral vector production for the cell and gene therapy markets. 

This isn’t the first expansion for MilliporeSigma. The company has been conducting gene therapy testing at its Carlsbad location since 1997 and added 21,000-square feet to its facility in 2016. MilliporeSigma’s leadership in this space has allowed the company to help its customers produce new treatments for cancer and many other diseases for clinical and early commercial markets.This substantial expansion will now catapult the company into large scale production to put more treatments on the path to commercial availability.

MilliporeSigma’s expanded facility allows the company to hire an additional 100 employees and creates space for 11 new production suites, more than doubling its current gene therapy manufacturing capacity. According to a MilliporeSigma release, the Carlsbad facility manufactures gene therapies for its customers globally. Gene therapy involves the delivery of a genetic payload into patient cells to produce a therapeutic effect such as correction of a mutated gene or retargeting of an immune cell to fight cancer.

“The advancements in gene and cell therapies are believed by many in the scientific community to be the path to curing cancer and other terminal illnesses. MilliporeSigma has been growing its activity in gene therapy and with this expansion, we’ll be able to manufacture more products which will ultimately reach more patients,” said Tiffany Carnes, Human Resources Business Partner at MilliporeSigma. 

Rendering of MilliporeSigma’s expanded facility, expected to open in November 2021.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is another Carlsbad life sciences behemoth breaking ground in the new year. The company recently announced its plan to build a new 67,000-square foot manufacturing facility dedicated to cGMP plasmid DNA, a critical raw material used to develop and manufacture cell and gene-based therapies, including life-saving cancer treatments as well as mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines are created through a synthetic version of the mRNA that a virus uses, instead of the dead or weakened form of the germ used in conventional vaccines. mRNA vaccines can be produced faster than conventional vaccines, and are more suitable for people with weakened immune systems. In fact, versions of the new COVID-19 vaccine are mRNA vaccines.

The additional facility will elevate the company’s cGMP plasmid DNA capabilities on both a clinical and commercial scale. The site will have the capability to produce large-scale plasmid DNA, a molecule that is separate from the chromosomal DNA and that can replicate itself, as a primary drug substance for therapies used to treat or prevent disease. Expected to be completed by mid-2021, the site will add approximately 150 new jobs over the next 12 months and feature advanced technologies, including single use equipment with up to the 1,000 Liter scale, digital connectivity and data visibility to enable operational efficiencies and operator training. 

Rendering of Thermo Fisher’s expanded facility, slated to open in mid-2021.

Thermo Fisher has been in Carlsbad for more than 20 years, and since its inception, has become a worldwide leader in virtually every corner of the sciences. Much like MilliporeSigma, Thermo Fisher’s expansion revolves around the demand for gene therapy solutions. The company’s continued investment in cell and gene therapy reinforces Thermo Fisher’s deep industry knowledge and expertise in moving products from research and preclinical development to clinical – and now expanded – commercial and supply chain services. 

“The race to develop new transformative cell and gene therapies and vaccines is outpacing supply of commercial-quality plasmid DNA that can be produced at scale,” said Mike Shafer, Senior Vice President and President, Pharma Services, Thermo Fisher. “Thermo Fisher’s new state-of-the art site will not only tackle the supply bottleneck but deliver robust, end-to-end cell and gene therapy capabilities.” By meeting these rising demands, Thermo Fisher is supporting pharmaceutical and biotech companies in their pursuit to create life-saving cures and improve quality of life.

Just a stone’s throw away from Thermo Fisher, another renovation is taking place at the soon-to-be Bollé Brands’ North American headquarters. France-based Bollé Brands acquired long-time Carlsbad sportswear company, SPY Optic, in 2019 and is relocating its North American operations to the existing SPY Optic locale. According to a Bollé Brands release, the move puts all of the Bollé Brands under one roof, including not just Bollé and SPY Optic, but also Serengeti, Cébé and H2Optix. Bollé Brands is considered a leader in the manufacturing and sale of technical glasses, goggles and helmets. 

Bollé Brands’ new North American headquarters will feature an open concept floor plan. Rendering subject to change.

“When Bollé Brands was looking to acquire SPY Optic, they made frequent visits out to Carlsbad and absolutely fell in love with the place. Without question, they decided that Carlsbad must be the place for their North America headquarters,” said Joe Freitag, Vice President of Brand for SPY Optic. 

Bollé Brands will be outfitting the space with its signature EPIC (Excellence in Product Innovation & Creativity) infrastructure, a design and development lab that nurtures its commitment to superior craftsmanship. In addition to the enhanced space, Bollé Brands’ expansion will employ 50 people and will also be introducing approximately 15 new jobs in Carlsbad over the coming year. And while the team is working remotely now, they are looking forward to the February 2021 opening of the new North American headquarters. The 13,522 square-foot building is being renovated to include showers to accommodate active employees, a private breakroom, an outdoor patio with workspaces and entertainment, a shoppable showroom, and an open concept floor plan.

An outdoor patio with games, seating areas, and entertainment support the active lifestyle of Bollé Brands’ culture. Rendering subject to change.

“We are thrilled that so many Carlsbad companies are thriving and investing in the region as they grow their businesses,” said Matt Sanford at City of Carlsbad. “With 2020 in the rearview mirror, we look forward to a prosperous 2021 and the new facilities and jobs that come with it.”

Through leaps and bounds, businesses are growing and flourishing in the City of Carlsbad. Keep up to date with these expansions by following MilliporeSigma, Thermo Fisher, and Bollé Brands on Facebook.