Merck mulling 600-job IT center in Austin; will seek city incentives


Merck, the global pharmaceutical and health care firm, is considering Austin for a new technology center that could create up to 600 jobs and serve as a major anchor for the innovation district emerging around the Dell Medical School.

According to city fillings made public this morning, Merck will request $856,000 from the city in performance-based incentives over a 10-year period. In exchange, the company would provide the new jobs, which pay an average annual salary of $84,586, the city’s economic development department said in a release.

According to a draft economic development proposal, the company also would invest almost $29 million in facilities and equipment by 2023.

The project would establish a new Merck tech hub “focused on digital health and other information technology solutions,” the city’s release said. A memo from department director Kevin Johns said the project would “elevate the status of our bio and life-sciences industry to the level of other global (Merck) locations such as Prague … and Singapore.”

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said the project “would be a really good fit for Austin.”

Merck and the Dell Medical School have not struck a formal partnership, but Clay Johnston, dean of the school, said such partnerships “could create unique opportunities to fulfill our mission in different and far-reaching ways.”

“We have discussed projects and initiatives to improve health, reduce inequities, improve patient outcomes and lower community health costs, potentially ranging from an effort to eradicate human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer in Austin, to pilot projects around better uses of health data, to community-based programs that increase the pipeline from schools in to the health professions,” Johnston said in a written statement. “These kinds of initiatives would be difficult to achieve without a relationship with this specific kind of collaborator.”

More details to follow.



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