Belgian biopharmaceutical company UCB has agreed to invest approximately £1bn ($1.27bn) over the next five years to back the research and development of new medical treatments in the UK.
The commitment by UCB includes the construction of a new £150-200m research and development facility in or close to the wider Slough area.
The new centre will house early manufacturing and commercial operations, and is expected to create about 650 jobs.
UCB expects that the move will help in research to address unmet patients’ needs, strengthen its alliances in the UK and boost its footprint in the life sciences industry.
The investment is part of a collaboration between the UK government and life sciences industry intended to support healthcare innovation in the country with a total investment of £1.3bn ($1.65bn).
The second Life Sciences Sector Deal involves industry investment from ten companies, including UCB, will focus on developing new technologies to detect and treat diseases early.
It will also help businesses to generate new jobs in line with the government’s Industrial Strategy.
As part of the collaboration, artificial intelligence (AI) will be leveraged to develop early disease detection technology and new treatments.
The government expects that identification of deadly diseases even before appearance of symptoms will save many lives.
Supported by up to £79m from the government, this Accelerating Detection of Disease programme will analyse five million healthy individuals to create new AI-based diagnostic tests.
The study will involve identification of common characteristics to gain better insights into the development of diseases.
In addition, the deal will also work towards next generation treatments such as genomics.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Technology and AI have the potential to revolutionise healthcare by unlocking the next generation of treatments, diagnosing diseases before symptoms appear and helping patients take greater control of their own health.
“Our world-leading plan to map 100,000 genomes is just one example of how innovation can deliver life-changing results for patients and we want to build on its success to provide patients with truly personalised care.”
Under the latest alliance, Roche will make £30m investment, including £20m funding to support digital clinical trials for rare cancers. IQVIA and Genomics England will also work on bolstering clinical research in the country.
A total of more than £80m from Autolus, Oxford BioMedica, Cobra Biologics, Roslin CT and Bellicum will be used for manufacturing facilities and back advanced therapies manufacturing.
Commenting on the new deal, Business Secretary Greg Clark noted: “This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action as we work hand in hand with industry to ensure the UK remains the go-to destination for launching new businesses, new discoveries and treatments to benefit health around the world.”