Cumbria biopharma plant to create 500 jobs and business ops says GSK

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Artist's impression of new GSK plant
Artist's impression of new GSK plant
GSK has unveiled designs for the £350m ($587m) biomanufacturing plant it intends to build in UK and confirmed that construction will start early next year.

Initial plans for the plant in Ulverston, Cumbria were presented in March 2012 after the introduction of corporate tax cuts​ that GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty​ said had “transformed the way in which we view the UK as a location for new investments​.”

Since then GSK has been working on designs and preparing the site according to company Biopharm lead Pat McIver, who told the firm presented its latest plans at a dinner hosted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last week.

This [presentation] included confirmation that the plans are proceeding to schedule; how we intend to develop a new segregated factory alongside the existing facility; and the fact that there will be opportunities for other local companies, as well as additional high quality jobs​” McIver said.

Building and operating the new facility will create around 500 jobs according to McIver who said that: “These roles will start to be filled when construction of the new biopharmaceutical facility at Ulverston gets underway​.”

McIver added that GSK is “about to start a period of public engagement ahead of submitting an outline planning application in early summer 2014​.”

We are still on track with the timetable we set out in the announcement, with work on building the first part of the new factory due to start in 2015 with commercial manufacturing operations expected to begin about six years after that, dependent upon progression of GSK’s new product pipeline​.”

For whom the M6-tolls?

The new plant will be adjacent to an antibiotic active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility that has operated since 1948, which was one of a number of factors that prompted GSK to choose the site according to McIver.

GSK chose Ulverston for a number of reasons including skills and technical capabilities and transport and environmental factors​,” he said, also citing support the firm received from local people, councils and politicians as important.

However, while a 60 plus-year record of drug manufacturing at the site indicates that an established transport infrastructure is already in place, GSKL does plan to make changes to make sure these are appropriate to the specific challenges of producing biopharmaceutical as McIver explained.

Our transport needs will be fairly small due to the low production volumes, but high value, involved in biopharmaceutical manufacturing.  The northwest has a good motorway network, although GSK is working with other local companies and business organisations to secure improvements to the road linking Ulverston with the M6​.”

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