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MSD gifts research facility to Scottish bioscience venture

BioCity Scotland is a joint venture between BioCity Nottingham and Roslin BioCentre

Merck Sharp & Dohnme (MSD) has donated its Newhouse research facility in Scotland to a partnership aiming to give it new life as a life sciences research park.

Re-named BioCity Scotland, the project is a joint venture between BioCity Nottingham and Roslin BioCentre to support drug discovery and development for bioscience, pharmaceutical, med tech and healthcare companies.

Located between Scotland's two largest cities – Glasgow and Edinburgh – BioCity Scotland will offer business support, finance, laboratories and office space, with appropriate equipment for chemistry, pharmacology and bioscience research.

MSD acquired Newhouse site when its US parent company Merck & Co merged with Schering-Plough in November 2009.

But after that deal was finalised the facility was one of eight Merck said it would close as part of plans to advance the integration of R&D, manufacturing and business operations worldwide.

At the time, then Labour MSP Karen Whitefield for the plant's local constituency, Airdrie and Shotts, described MSD's decision to shut down operations at the site as a “devastating blow” with the loss of 250 jobs.

It is hoped BioCity Scotland can match the success of BioCity Nottingham, which has helped development projects from over 70 new companies since 2003, becoming the UK's largest bioscience innovation and incubation centre.

Current MSP for Airdrie and Shotts and cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, the SNP's Alex Neil, praised the project.

“A phoenix has arisen from the ashes of losing MSD and done so in a spectacular way. The jobs and investment this project brings are not just high in number but excel in quality,” he said.

“It is especially welcome that the diversity of companies which will operate from this site means that we are no longer dependent on just one big employer. Having a number of firms, especially high growth businesses, will help make these jobs more secure.”

Chris Hill, current MSD vice president and the former head of the Newhouse facility, said: "This is a fantastic outcome for the life sciences community in Scotland and the wider UK. We are delighted to have secured such an accomplished investor and a viable and exciting future for the site in such a short period of time.”

13th January 2012

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