Looking to take advantage of Greater Boston’s expertise in life sciences, EMD Serono Inc. said in a Thursday press release that it is in the process of expanding its US workforce by 20 percent, with much of the growth targeted for Billerica.

James Hoyes. Photo taken from company website.

“By expanding our footprint within the Boston life sciences cluster of technology and talent, we significantly enhance our competitive position in the US and globally,” Annalisa Jenkins, head the company’s of global drug development and medical division, said in a statement.

From mid 2012 until the end of 2014, EMD Serono projects that its US head count will grow by 20 percent.

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At this time, the company said it has 800 employees in Rockland and Billerica. In the US, the company has slightly more than 1,000 employees. During 2013, the company said it expects to add in excess of 125 new positions in Massachusetts.

EMD Serono is a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, a large German company that makes drugs and chemicals. EMD Serono has local offices in Rockland and Billerica. The Billerica facility, the focus or a recent $75-million expansion, is being renamed the EMD Serono Research & Development Institute. The name-change seeks to emphasize the focus of the work that will be taking place in Billerica --- that work spans early discovery to late stage clinical development of potential treatments. Commercialization activities will then be handed off to EMD Serono’s commercial headquarters in Rockland.

In a statement, EMD Serono president James Hoyes, said: “The Greater Boston area remains one of the top locations for state-of-the-art drug development. Here we can attract and retain best-in-class talent in the biopharma and life sciences industry. We are confident that by increasing hiring in the US, we can continue to foster innovation and a culture anchored in new possibilities.”