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$1.6B Eli Lilly Factory Investment Underscores Big Movement In Biomanufacturing


Talk of a slowdown in life sciences funding and investment hasn’t changed the plans of pharma giant Eli Lilly. The Indianapolis-based biotech giant just announced an additional $1.6B investment in its Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, roughly 30 miles northwest of its headquarters. This is on top of $2.1B of previously announced investments in the site.

This will be the largest single manufacturing investment in the company’s history, and it is predicted to create an additional 200 jobs.

The news underscores two significant shifts in biomanufacturing funding happening right now, after a year when leasing activity slowed as construction began to ramp up, per a recent CBRE report. Larger, established pharmaceutical companies are sitting on significant cash reserves analysts expect them to spend on infrastructure and mergers. And biomanufacturing capacity, which has been in demand due to the expanding needs of new technologies such as cell and gene therapy as well as the government’s reshoring push after the pandemic, has been addressed by new investments in plants and retooled facilities. 

The Biden administration has pushed to boost domestic biomanufacturing capacity, issuing a report in March titled Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing and announcing a goal to have one-quarter of small molecule drugs produced in the U.S. by 2028. This comes after a 2022 joint investment of $1B by the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services to boost domestic biomanufacturing. 

Earlier this month, South Korean firm UNDBIO announced plans to construct a $100M insulin manufacturing facility in Morgantown, West Virginia. U.S.-based manufacturer National Resilience netted a $410M loan from the government to build factories domestically, and contract manufacturer Wheeler Bio scored a $31M Series A funding round to build a facility in Oklahoma.

Eli Lilly has made a series of significant real estate investments in recent years, including a $450M investment in a Research Triangle Manufacturing Plant announced in January and news of its new $700M Boston Seaport research facility, focused on mRNA technology. Lilly alone has invested $4.6B in U.S. manufacturing capacity in the last three years.