Both GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Eli Lilly are investing in new pharmaceutical research facilities in the UK.
GSK has provided £12m to help fund a new sustainable chemistry research facility, focusing on pharmaceutical research, at Nottingham University.
Lilly has launched new neuroscience research facilities at its Erl Wood R&D campus in Surrey, at a cost of £5.4m.
Both initiatives reflect the industry’s renewed confidence in partnership with the academic sector, triggered in part by the new ‘patent box’ legislation.
Known as the GlaxoSmithKline Carbon-Neutral Centre for Sustainable Chemistry, the new building at Nottingham University is intended to stimulate collaborations with other institutions and industry partners.
The new building, scheduled for completion in 2014, will be carbon-neutral, made from natural materials and rely on renewable energy sources.
Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said: “The carbon-neutral laboratory will help affirm the UK as a global hub for the future of the life sciences industry. This is an opportunity to invest further in science in the UK, rethink how we approach the drug discovery process and play a role in contributing to environmental stewardship.”
“This development will be transformational in several ways,” commented Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of the university. “The building will break new ground in sustainable construction, while the centre of excellence will shape the future of drug discovery.”
The initiative was praised by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. “This new laboratory is an excellent example of collaboration between universities and industry,” he said. “It shows how businesses can benefit from the knowledge and expertise of our world-leading research base and will help keep us at the very forefront of life sciences.”
Eli Lilly’s new research facilities at Erl Wood will house 130 staff, many already employed at the site.
The investment reflects Lilly’s aim of strengthening its neuroscience portfolio, especially for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Jan Lundberg, President of Lilly Research Laboratories, commented: “The UK is a great place to do bioscience research. Not only does the UK benefit from have a strong research base, the government is also able to maintain a stable pricing and reimbursement system.
“As well as financial incentives for R&D, this demonstrates that the UK government has a commitment to maintain its position as a global leader in attracting pharmaceutical investment.”
Lilly’s involvement in neuroscience research goes back two decades. The company’s drug solanezumab, currently in phase III development, has potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Lundberg also emphasised the importance of partnership between industry and academia. “Collaboration is absolutely essential to ensure innovative new medicines reach patients,” he said. “The science behind drug discovery is becoming more challenging.”