One of India’s largest generic medicines groups has inaugurated a new headquarters for its expanding Cambridge-based subsidiary Chirotech, affirming its belief in the UK as Europe’s most attractive location for life sciences.
Dr Reddy’s has pledged further investment in Chirotech, a specialist biotech company on the Cambridge Science Park.
Chirotech has increased by a third to 40 employees since the purchase in 2008, and will have the space to double staffing again on the new site.
The decision marks a rare boost for the UK’s medicines sector.
The industry has suffered substantial recent job losses in research and development from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Pfizer, which is in the process of closing its research unit in Sandwich, south-east England.
All the multinational companies have stressed that their decisions are the result of global restructuring rather than disappointment with the UK.
However, the reduction in staff has sparked fresh concern over the ability of the country to maintain its position as a leading international centre for drug development and medical innovation.
GV Prasad, Dr Reddy’s chief executive, told the Financial Times: “After a time focused on acquisitions, we are now building our technological edge again.
“The UK is an expensive location, but it has talent we could not attract to India.”
He said Dr Reddy’s had considered alternative sites for European expansion in Germany and in Switzerland.
However, the company judged the UK more appealing because of its “ecosystem” of links to universities and biotech companies, as well as the shared use with India of the English language.
Mr Prasad said he had not considered moving to Pfizer’s Sandwich site, but that the new location in Cambridge had previously been occupied by a division of AstraZeneca which has been restructured.
Chirotech provides a range of specialist services to Dr Reddy’s and third-party pharmaceutical companies.
It has already applied its technologies to substantially reduce manufacturing costs for its Indian parent’s products, including atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug, and Abacavir for HIV patients.
Mr Prasad said that Dr Reddy’s was repositioning Chirotech as a “centre of excellence” in chemistry for the group, to complementing its traditional strength in biology, and would “incrementally” build its workforce.
He said the company had spent £20m ($32.7m) on the acquisition and invested “several million” pounds since.
In an unusual display of solidarity with one of his Indian rivals, Dr Anji Reddy, founder of the company, opened the new headquarters on Monday jointly with Yusuf Hamied, head of the Indian generics business Cipla, and a former chemistry student at Cambridge university.
Get alerts on Mergers & Acquisitions when a new story is published