GSK to create up to 5,000 UK jobs as it plans huge biotech centre

Drug maker seeks to unlock £400m of private investment for site in Stevenage

GlaxoSmithKline plans to build one of Europe’s largest biotechnology campuses. Photograph: Loriene Perera/File Photo/Reuters

GlaxoSmithKline plans to build one of Europe’s largest biotechnology campuses. Photograph: Loriene Perera/File Photo/Reuters

 

GlaxoSmithKline plans to build one of Europe’s largest biotechnology campuses, creating up to 5,000 UK jobs and attracting £400 million (€469 million) of private investment.

The pharmaceuticals group will sell 33 acres of land on its site in the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage to raise funds from private investors and transform it into a life sciences park.

The venture would aim to create up to 5,000 jobs over the next five to 10 years, the company said.

GSK intends to select a development partner this year to start work in 2022 and transform the land within the company’s 92-acre research and development site.

“Our goal is for Stevenage to emerge as a top destination for medical and scientific research by the end of the decade,” said Tony Wood, senior vice-president of medicinal science and technology at GSK.

“The past 18 months have shown the UK life sciences sector at its best,” he added, noting the country had developed a 10-year vision for the sector.

Drug pipeline

The investment comes as GSK prepares to spin off its consumer health division, leaving a slimmed-down business focused on pharmaceuticals and vaccines. The “new GSK” is trying to revamp its drug pipeline by investing heavily in research and development.

But the spin-off also raised questions about whether the group could be an acquisition target for foreign buyers, potentially worrying some politicians who are pushing the UK as a hub for life sciences investment after Brexit.

The UK government unveiled its 10-year strategy for life sciences investment this month, hoping to accelerate the development of treatments for diseases such as dementia, and new immune therapies such as cancer vaccines.

As commercial property has struggled due to lockdowns and concerns that many workers will not return to the office full-time, some landlords have been keen to invest in life science campuses, as investment in the sector has increased during the pandemic.

A record £2.4 billion was invested in life sciences property in the “golden triangle” of London, Oxford and Cambridge in 2020, according to Bidwells, a consultancy. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021