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By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's Merck KGaA said it would invest 25 million euros ($29.9 million) in Molsheim, France, to make disposable plastic materials for bioreactors, an essential input for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.
The new site, which will see the creation of 350 jobs, will be Merck's first such facility in Europe and will likely come on stream at the end of this year, the diversified group said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Our new European production line will increase global capacity for urgently needed supplies of single-use products to makers of vaccines and therapeutics," Merck said in a statement.
Merck's Life Science unit, which supplies gear and chemicals for biotech labs, in December announced a combined $47 million investment at production facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, also to produce supplies for makers of COVID-19 vaccines and biotech therapies.
Merck, which competes in lab equipment with Thermo Fisher and Sartorius, also has a site for single-use plastic bags for bioreactors in Wuxi, China.
The single-use bioreactors market has seen double-digit percentage growth because the technology makes biotech production more flexible, cheaper and faster, Merck said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has even increased that pace.
($1 = 0.8399 euros)
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Maria Sheahan)