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Spotlight on investment in life sciences

George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences, introduces a series of case studies to highlight business successes in UK life sciences.

Deals between collaborating parties are the lifeblood of the life science sector. For many scientists, investors and companies, closing a deal is a major validation of a technology or innovation and an important milestone in the evolution of a research project or company.

Deals also tell a story about what’s going on in the sector. In my role as Minister for Life Sciences, I’m lucky enough to see and hear about many of these deals so I’ve decided to highlight a selection of them over the months ahead as they are great demonstrations of the strength of the UK life sciences sector.

My first deal tells a story about how the closure of ‘old’ pharma sites can be an opportunity for new investment and how state-of-the art facilities invested in by big pharma can be repurposed to support existing or emerging companies.

On 9 November, The Almac Group announced £16 million investment in AstraZeneca’s old site at Charnwood to expand their capacity in formulation and analytical development facilities, expected to create nearly 200 new jobs over the next 5 years.

Almac is a global contract development and manufacturing business that provides services to over 600 companies worldwide in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. The company is one of the UK life sciences sector’s big success stories, with over 4,000 employees in locations around the world. A fast-growing, established UK business, the company is also an excellent example of the strength of Northern Ireland’s life sciences sector which consists of over 140 high tech companies, with exports worth over £1 billion a year.

Almac chose Charnwood for its new facility as it provides access to state of the art equipment plus access to a skilled scientific talent pool. This will enable Almac, under the Almac Pharma Services Division, to commence operations to manufacture the next generation of medicines at Charnwood in early 2017 - as well reducing the required cost levels by utilising the existing facility.

Successful ‘old’ pharma site conversions stories such as this one are why I’ve convened a pharma site conversion taskforce to look at what more can be done to support the repurposing of old pharma sites in order to deliver more successful outcomes like the new Almac facility at Charnwood.

Almac’s decision to invest in the Charnwood site also nicely demonstrates the attractiveness of the UK as a location for investment and doing business in the life sciences sector. With incentives such as the lowest corporation tax in the G20, the Patent Box and R&D Tax credits, the UK is the leading European destination for foreign direct investment in Europe.

I’m looking forward to working with Almac as they become established at Charnwood and I have tasked the UK Trade & Investment Life Sciences Organisation (UKTI LSO) to work with the company on government support for future exports from Charnwood. The local Growth Hub will also continue to provide support to Almac at Charnwood and for their plans for future growth in the area.

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