Tower of Basel: Roche spends $3bn on giant R&D site

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

Tower of Basel: Roche spends $3bn on giant R&D site
Roche has announced plans to invest 3bn Swiss Francs ($3.2bn) in a 433-ft R&D centre and extra offices for 3,600 employees.

Over the next ten years, the drugmaker will build a four-tower R&D cluster on its current Basel site, as well as an office building for 1,700 workers, a logistics centre for energy and GMP, and renovation of its 77 year-old building designed by Swiss architect Otto Salvisberg.

The research centre’s high-rise towers (132m, 72m, 28m and 16m) will be located in the middle of the site to protect living conditions for neighbours – with the facility’s perimeter reserved only for low-rise buildings.

The R&D hub is planned to open around 2022, and a neighbouring in vivo research facility is expected by 2018. Office buildings will be in use by 2021.

Roche's projected four-tower R&D centre
Roche's projected four-tower R&D centre will be located in the middle of the site to protect residential neighbours.

Saving greenfield

The mammoth 3bn Franc figure is in addition to 550m Francs ($579m) already spent on an office that is due to open towards the end of 2015. When 3,000 Roche staff move into the building, another 6,000 will remain in rented properties spread around Basel.

The ten-year plan is to bring all workers onto Roche’s existing industrial site at Grenzacherstrasse, Basel. One consequence is “eliminate[ing] the need to build over green zones​", said Jürg Erismann, head of the Basel site.

"Instead, Roche will be making more efficient use of those parts of the site that have already been developed but cannot be expanded.​”

He added sustainability is a top priority for all the construction: “The energy used in Building 1 will be only one fifth of the amount consumed in 40-year-old Building 74, which is due to be replaced as part of the site development project.​"

‘Outsourcing considerations’?

When in-Pharmatechnologist.com asked if the huge R&D investment had implications for the company’s outsourcing spend, and if it plans to bring CRO employees onto its own facility, spokeswoman Ulrike Engels said the financing “was not driven by outsourcing considerations.​”

Instead, “the new R&D centre replaces older, already existing buildings. The goal is to improve collaboration and interactions between the various disciplines involved in R&D.​”

Roche said the makeover will create “an attractive workplace​” but kept quiet on whether the facilities will have any Google-style perks for employees.

Roche already offers highly attractive working conditions; with the new R&D centre we make sure that R&D lab and office spaces provide cutting edge research technology and infrastructure as well as a working environment which fosters communication and collaboration between the different disciplines involved in R&D,​” said Engels.

The site will have a “modern mobility​” design to encourage public transport and bikes and to keep car use to a minimum.

Related topics: Contract Manufacturing & Logistics

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