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February 1, 2024

U.S. head of German drug manufacturer sees further growth in Milford 

Two workers wearing white lab suits and hair nets covering their faces point at a computer screen. Photo | Courtesy of Rentschler Biopharma Workers at the new Rentschler Biopharma manufacturing center in Milford

Though the name of the client and the cancer treatment it produces is confidential, Rentschler Biopharma's Tom Roberts says this is just the first in a new wave of business in Milford for the 150-year-old company. 

A man wears a blue shirt and suit
Photo | Courtesy of Rentschler Biopharma
Tom Roberts, president of Rentschler Biopharma and general manager U.S.

Rentschler Biopharma, a contract development and drug manufacturing organization based in Laupheim, Germany, acquired its U.S. headquarters from Shire PLC in 2019 as the production site for a single product and has since built out its American subsidiary to house the production of complex molecules for international biopharma clients. 

In December, Rentschler Biopharma announced the completion of a 22,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at its Maple Street location. This company said this marks the largest growth phase in the company's history, doubling global capacity. 

“We want to fill the capacity at our new facility,” said Roberts, who was hired in September as president of Rentschler Biopharma and general manager U.S. 

An aerial photo of an industrial facility
Photo | Courtesy of Rentschler Biopharma
The new Milford facility of Rentschler Biopharma

There are four bioreactors in the new facility capable of manufacturing a range of protein-based therapies for both European and American clients.

“It gives our client flexibility,” to make its products in the U.S., Roberts added. 

An industry veteran, Roberts spent the last 15 years of his career leading startups focused on developing novel treatments to improve lives, he said. He still sits on the board of directors for the Texas-based startup Vitanova Biomedical. 

Rentschler Biopharma specializes in biopharmaceutical and cell and gene therapy treatments for serious illnesses. It helped manufacture an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine early in the pandemic. In addition to Milford and Germany, the company has operations in the United Kingdom. 

Workers wearing white lab coats and glasses work in a laboratory space
Photo | Courtesy of Rentschler Biopharma
Lab workers at Rentschler Biopharma's new facility in Milford

Milford is an ideal location as an extension of Greater Boston’s biopharmaceutical hub that provides a qualified workforce, said Roberts. With roughly 200 employees in Milford today, Roberts said Rentschler, a mid-sized biopharma company, “will absolutely be growing our workforce to meet those clients needs,” in 2024 and beyond. 

“Our challenge now is staying ahead of the curve,” Roberts said.

The Milford expansion follows several years of rapid growth for Rentschler Biopharma, which employs about 1,400 people worldwide. Also in September, the company named Benedikt von Braunmuehl as its CEO. At the time, von Braunmuehl said Rentschler Biopharma was poised to fill a niche for biopharma companies. 

“The need for an experienced and reliable partner like Rentschler Biopharma, which can cover highly specialized industry demands in bioprocess development through to commercial manufacturing, is only going to grow,” von Braunmuehl said in the press release announcing him as CEO.

The Town of Milford provided Rentschler Biopharma with tax break to build the new Rentschler Biopharma Manufacturing Center, a program aimed in part at creating jobs. The 12-year tax-increment-financing agreement will generate $1.2 million in tax savings for the company. 

The new manufacturing facility is expected to be operational in the second half of 2024, the company said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Rentschler Biopharma has 1,300 employees. A more recent count puts the total number of employees at 1,400. 

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