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Thursday, 25 December 2014

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100s of jobs on the way at £350m Ulverston site

A £350m biopharmaceutical plant is set to be built in Ulverston, creating hundreds of jobs.

After months of consultation and feasibility studies, GlaxoSmithKline has today revealed Ulverston has been picked as the location for a new biopharm facility.

Construction of the new plant is expected to begin in 2014 and take up to six years.

Welcoming the news, Prime Minister David Cameron said the investment would provide a “huge boost to the area”.

Plans to build a new facility were first announced by Glaxo back in 2009 after the government outlined pre-budget proposals to cut tax by more than 60 per cent on profits from UK patents.

The ‘patent box’, which was confirmed in yesterday’s Budget, will result in a reduced rate of corporation tax applying to income from patents, from April 2013.

Glaxo shortlisted four potential sites for the biopharm plant in December 2009, with Ulverston facing stiff competition from Barnard Castle in the north east and Montrose and Irvine in Scotland.

Fears were raised that Ulverston could lose out to one of the two sites north of the border after a series of incentives were offered by the Scottish Government. A campaign was launched by Furness Enterprise to try to convince Glaxo that Ulverston was the best place for the investment.

Last November, Glaxo bosses visited Ulverston to tour the existing site. The site director at the time, Adrian Lowes, said: “I am very proud to say that we were able to show the assessment team what a great operation we run here at Ulverston.”

Today’s announcement that Ulverston has been picked for the new facility has been welcomed across the Cumbrian economy and beyond.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This is excellent news for Cumbria – a major investment that will create many highly skilled jobs and provide a huge boost to the area.

“The plans for a new manufacturing facility at Ulverston show why we are right to cut business tax and focus on making the UK a dynamic and competitive place that can attract exactly this type of high tech investment.

“We have a world class life sciences industry, and I am determined not just to keep it here in the UK but significantly increase it too. We cannot be complacent, the industry is changing, and we must change with it.

“Our innovative life sciences strategy and ground-breaking patent box are already making a difference, helping to grow this important industry and ensure the great medicines of the future are discovered and made here in Britain at sites such as Ulverston.”

Glaxo’s Ulverston site employs around 240 people and manufactures key ingredients for antibiotics. Today’s announcement follows an extensive feasibility study into the four competing sites which looked at technical ability, sterile processing skills and existing links with local suppliers and academic partners.

GSK’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Witty, said: “The introduction of the patent box has transformed the way in which we view the UK as a location for new investments, ensuring that the medicines of the future will not only be discovered, but can also continue to be made here in Britain. Consequently, we can confirm that we will build GSK’s first new UK factory for almost 40 years and that we will make other substantial capital investments in our British manufacturing base. In total, this will create up to 1,000 jobs over the lifetime of the projects. We are also actively considering other investments in our UK manufacturing network which would create further jobs and reinforce the UK’s international competitiveness and as a world leader in life sciences.”

GSK is also considering further significant manufacturing investment at Ulverston which could double the total investment at the site to approximately £700m and create further jobs in the longer term. Bosses said additional investment would depend on continued improvements in the environment for innovation in the UK. Glaxo has also announced plans to invest £100m at its Montrose and Irvine sites.

Speaking to the Evening Mail today, Harry Knowles, chief executive of Furness Enterprise which supported the bid to bring the plant to Ulverston, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news. I am absolutely delighted that GSK has chosen to put this brand new investment into Ulverston. Tremendous credit goes to the local GSK management team led formerly by Adrian Lowes and now Greig Rooney. It is also testament to the support that the local management team have received from South Lakeland District Council, the local MP John Woodcock, ourselves Furness Enterprise and supported by the Cumbrian LEP.

“From a situation where we were seeing investment at Ulverston in a period of decline, we are now going to see a tremendous boost and a boost in jobs as well. I can not tell you how delighted I am. I am almost speechless.”

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “I am delighted that GSK has chosen Ulverston for its exciting new bio-tech investment and proud that this boost was secured by the major tax break for innovation pioneered by the last Labour government. After a hard fought competition with other UK sites, GSK’s decision is a major vote of confidence in the brilliant and determined workforce at Ulverston. There is so much potential in this region if the government is prepared to build on Labour’s commitment to innovation and investment which set in train the process that Ulverston has won today.”

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