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Novo Nordisk Invests in UK Research Center

01.02.2017 -

Novo Nordisk has announced plans to invest 1 billion Danish kroner ($145 million) over 10 years in a new research center at the University of Oxford, giving a major boost to the UK’s life sciences sector.

The move is part of a partnership between the Danish drugmaker and the university to discover innovative approaches for treating type 2 diabetes. The Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford will employ up to 100 researchers who will focus on innovation within early stage research that has the potential to substantially impact future treatment of both type 2 diabetes and its complications.

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Novo Nordisk’s chief science officer and executive vice president, said the deal brings together some of the world’s sharpest minds in the field of diabetes. He commented: “Our vision is that the unique combination of industrial and academic know-how will eventually lead to a new generation of treatments to improve the lives of people with type 2 diabetes.”

The collaboration will actively seek to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas between the university’s researchers and those from Novo Nordisk with funds to sponsor the research. John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, said the collaboration underlines the importance of shared research and cutting-edge science across boundaries.

The decision to invest in the UK was hailed by David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, “as a vote of confidence in the UK’s position as a world leader in science and research”. The news will be welcomed by the life sciences industry, particularly following the recent negative speculation surrounding Brexit’s impact on the sector and the fact that US drugmaker Pfizer said last November that it will close two of its three sites in the UK by 2020.

Novo Nordisk said it was attracted by the University’s history of excellence. However, Thomsen said while the disease research and molecular biology will be done in Oxford, any new drugs or treatments will be developed and manufactured in Denmark.

Earlier last month, Novo Nordisk confirmed it had gained approval in the EU and Canada for its fast-acting insulin Fiasp. It expects to launch the drug in certain European countries during the first half of 2017. Regulatory review in other countries, including the US, is ongoing.

Also in January, the Danish pharma group announced a partnership with Glooko to develop digital health solutions and services for diabetes patients and clinicians. The new solutions will be integrated into the Novo Nordisk Digital Health Platform, developed with IBM Watson Health.

Novo Nordisk said last November it would cut around 1,000 jobs, including R&D positions, at its Bagsvaerd headquarters.

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