Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced a $192.5 million contract award from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure reliable domestic production of pipette tips, which are used within research and diagnostic labs to dispense precise amounts of liquid.
In mid-2020, the company announced its own investments to increase pipette tip production capacity to support COVID-19 testing.
With the DoD award, issued on behalf of and in coordination with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Thermo Fisher will co-invest with the US government in building a new, state-of-the-art, energy-efficient manufacturing facility for pipette tips, which are used in vital disease research and in high volumes for processing of diagnostic tests nationally, including COVID-19, during the pandemic.
This award and the resulting capacity ensure that future demand surges in the US, from the current COVID-19 pandemic to the next crisis, will be met with greater supply assurance
The new centre of excellence in laboratory consumables manufacturing and operations will be in North Carolina and designed in line with Thermo Fisher's carbon neutrality goals.
Construction will be fully completed by Q3 2024, with pipette tip manufacturing starting as early as Q3 2023. The site, expected to create hundreds of new jobs in the region, has the potential for future expansion across a variety of high-demand product lines.
"This award and the resulting capacity ensure that future demand surges in the US, from the current COVID-19 pandemic to the next crisis, will be met with greater supply assurance," said Mark Stevenson, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer. "Supply chain agility is critical to our customers, our government and to the health and safety of our citizens, and we're excited to bring this state-of-the-art capacity online, especially since its efficient design will also showcase our commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050."
Laboratory consumables have been vital in global COVID-19 mobilisation, from sample collection vials for diagnostic test kits to lab plastics and materials for vaccine production and biobanking. Since the start of the pandemic, Thermo Fisher has invested more than $180m to expand its laboratory plastics consumables production and another $600m to increase global bioprocessing capacity.
In addition, the company opened new sites dedicated to manufacturing viral transport media used in COVID-19 sample collection and cGMP plasmid DNA used in mRNA-based vaccines.