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Novartis to relocate UK headquarters to London’s White City

Emerging life sciences hub has already attracted Autolus

WestWorks

Novartis is to relocate its UK headquarters to London’s White City Place Campus, an area that’s emerging as a UK life sciences hotbed.

The move will see Novartis UK and around 600 of its staff leave behind its longstanding based in Frimley, Surrey, which is about 35 miles south west of London, to be closer to the capital's action from 2020.

The move is part of a global trend in pharma, where companies are moving from isolated 'fortress-like' sites in outlying areas and swapping them for city centre locations.

This year has seen MSD set up a multi-million pound R&D centre based in the newly-regenerated St Pancras district of London, disinvesting in its Hoddesdon site in Hertfordshire. Meanwhile AstraZeneca is putting the final touches to its new HQ in Cambridge, looking to tap into its world-class science base and create a life science cluster to rival the biggest of them all, Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The WestWorks building is the former administrative building of the BBC, which was refurbished last year to turn the White City site it into the modern urban village development now de rigeur in major cities.

Novartis will be neighbours with Imperial College London’s new research and innovation site, and the institute has said it’s seeking to form new partnerships, so the move could prove quite fruitful for Novartis.

“Novartis is a natural fit for White City’s booming life sciences ecosystem, and we hope that this move will pave the way to new collaborations and partnerships to enhance our work in this area.” said Professor David Gann, Vice President Innovation, at Imperial College London.

The new location should make it easier for Novartis to attract and retain top talent, an expected hurdle for all life science companies amid the Brexit storm.

White City has so far attracted the likes of cell therapy biotech Autolus, which was the first major life sciences business to move to the campus in July this year.

It was soon joined by biotech start-up Synthace, the company behind a cloud software platform for automating and improving the success rate of biological R&D.

“White City is quickly becoming one of the UK’s life sciences and technology districts, and the ethos of The WestWorks campus complements how we work to deliver on our strategy to reimagine medicine,” said Haseeb Ahmad (pictured below), Novartis UK country president.

Haseeb Ahmad

He adds: “The nature of healthcare and medicine is changing and as we pivot towards becoming a focused medicines company, powered by digital and data, we want to be closer to our customers and partners, and become better networked in the healthcare and life science ecosystem.”

The Switzerland-headquartered firm's investment in the UK will be welcome news amid continuing uncertainty about Brexit. Novartis recently secured rapid market access for its CAR-T therapy Kymriah, via a deal with NHS England.

Article by
Gemma Jones

29th November 2018

From: Research

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