Almost 2000 jobs to be created at research centres in Manchester and London

US pharma giant Merck & Co, known as MSD in the UK, is to build a major new life sciences research hub in London. The new UK Discovery Centre is expected to open in 2020, and will accommodate 150 new research roles alongside an additional 800 staff.

Meanwhile, European biotech company Qiagen has plans to build a new genomics and diagnostics campus in Manchester, in partnership with Health Innovation Manchester. Qiagen expects the facility to create up to 800 new skilled positions.

Announcements of these developments were conveniently timed to coincide with the UK government’s unveiling of its new industrial strategy. The white paper seeks to address four ‘grand challenges’, of which one is to harness innovations in medical care to meet the needs of the country’s aging population.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said that the investments prove that ‘the process outlined in the Industrial Strategy can give companies the confidence and direction they need to invest in the UK’.

Coming just over a week after the European Medicines Agency declared its intention to move from London to Amsterdam in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote, the news will be seen by many as a welcome boost for the country’s life science sector.