The investment is a significant expansion of Novartis’ activities in China, which will become the big pharma’s third largest R&D region, as it attempts to capitalise on the cost-effectiveness, expertise and rapid market growth the country offers.
A $250m global technical centre will be constructed in Changshu, in east China which will focus on the R&D and manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).
By co-locating API R&D and manufacture Novartis believes it can realise synergies which will significantly improve pharmaceutical processes and operational efficiencies. Novartis predicts the centre will become a “critical part” of its global production and supply chain network.
The company already operates a facility in Changshu, which focuses on the process and analytical research and development of drugs and their manufacturing technologies, and the new centre will double the number of high-quality jobs Novartis provides at the site.
$1bn R&D investment
The main thrust of Novartis’ expansion in China is a $1bn investment in its R&D activities over the next five years. This money will be used to significantly expand The Novartis Institute of BioMedical Research (CNIBR) in Shanghai by relocating it from its existing site.
Currently CNIBR is in Zhangjiang High-tech Park, and specialises in basic R&D of drugs focused on diseases that are highly prevalent in China, but the scale of the expansion necessitates relocation.
CNIBR will move to another campus in Shanghai and expand its capabilities to cover areas including analytics and biomarkers, in vivo pharmacology, protein production, genomics and imaging.
Once complete Novartis believes the expanded CNIBR will become its third largest R&D centre, after Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, and employ 1,000 R&D associates, compared to 160 today.
Novartis also expects CNIBR to extend and increase its collaborations with institutions in China to tap and cultivate the country’s talent pool. The facility will develop drugs for the Chinese market, which is expected to grow rapidly as a result of governmental efforts, and other countries.