Building for biotechnology

Posted on 18 Oct 2010 by The Manufacturer

Government shows support for biotechnology in the UK at the launch of a new biotechnology packaging facility for Pfizer in Havant, Hampshire.

Science Minister David Willetts officially opened the new facility on Friday October 15, the day following the launch of a new skills document from Sector Skill Council (SSC), Cogent, investigating the skills and training investments needed to support the UKs promising future as a biotechnology leader.

The injection of £2.6m by leading biopharmaceutical company Pfizer into this new packaging plant is testament to the UKs strength in the biotechnology industry, not only as a base for R&D but also for production. Furthermore Pfizer is planning to expand the current investment in Havant over into 2011 with new packaging lines and additional cold storage facilities. Such intentions infer confidence in the growth of biotechnology in the UK and around the globe where biotechnology is estimated to have penetrated into 80% of the broader pharmaceuticals industry.

Pfizer’s choice of the UK as a base for investment gives out a positive message about the global perception of UK skills and the country’s position as a high-tech, high value-add manufacturing economy. Inward investment by life sciences companies is hugely important to the UK as the Government works to rebalance and grow the UK economy. In 2009-10 the UK attracted 173 life sciences investment projects, generating nearly 8,500 jobs.

Science Minister David Willetts said on Friday: “Pfizer’s commitment to the UK is a big win for our life science and manufacturing base. I’m hugely encouraged that even in these tough economic times the world’s largest research-based biopharmaceutical company has chosen the UK to make this significant investment.

“The Government is determined to ensure that the UK has one of the leading business environments in the world for the life sciences and remains a global force in this field.”

Richard Blackburn, Pfizer UK’s Managing Director made clear that in choosing the UK as a base for investment the organisation was picking a location where is quality, safety and efficacy were paramount, not cost of labour: “Pfizer plays a crucial role in delivering life-saving medicines to clinicians and patients not just in the UK, but right across the world. This investment in the new packaging hall at Havant demonstrates our aim to ensure this state-of-the-art facility remains a centre of expertise for cold chain distribution and packaging.”

Director of UK Trade & Investment’s US network, Nick McInnes commented: “This investment by a leading US company – and one of the largest inward investors in the UK – is further evidence of the UK’s strength in life science and our attractiveness as a base for US companies in Europe.”

Several factors have helped to make the UK attractive to inward investment in the life sciences industry. These include its high quality science base, strong innovation and R&D capability, a well-established IP rights system and a growing reputation for effective collaboration, both nationally and internationally between the NHS, industry and the research base.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has stated its firm intention to foster a climate of innovation in the UK so that this trend for inward investment in emerging markets can continue in the face of tough global and commercial competition. This statement of intent will be welcomed by manufacturing SSCs Semta and Cogent who have both thrown their support behind the launch of an employer led Life Science Industries Advisory Council this winter in order to give a coherent voice to their innovation, investment and skills needs.