December 11, 2013      

WORLDPHARMANEWS UCB Pharmaceuticals (Belgium) has today announced the successful completion of a $5.4M investment in new, cutting-edge robotic laboratory equipment and purpose-built technology at its UK immunology research center of excellence. The investment centers on an automated antibody discovery platform, designed and built especially for UCB by Farnborough based robotic laboratory experts company Peak Analysis & Automation Ltd (PAA).

Today, medicine discovery is a sophisticated process that integrates scientific innovation with cutting-edge technology and the new equipment enhances our search for new medicines by providing UCB with a highly automated process to effectively generate, select, produce and evaluate new human antibody-based medicines for patients. “UCB’s decision to commission their new robotic laboratory equipment from the local Farnborough-based company PAA is a wonderful example of a UK leader in science choosing to partner with a local UK specialist company to strengthen this country’s world class science offering,” explained Sir Gerald Howarth, Member of Parliament for Aldershot.

Stemming the tide of outsourcing R&D in the UK

He added, “The fact that UCB had the confidence to invest in the future of their UK drug discovery research facilities provides evidence that the Government’s Life Sciences strategy is delivering on the ground results.” With many pharmaceutical companies downsizing their UK R&D facilities and relocating to cheaper overseas locations combined with more company restructuring on the horizon, it is clearly a difficult environment for the pharmaceutical industry. However UCB’s announcement underlines the company’s ongoing commitment to pioneering scientific innovation in the UK and reinforces its position as a science skills leader. Speaking on behalf of UCB, Dr Neil Weir, Senior Vice President of Discovery, UCB and Chair of the ABPI Innovation Board said “Some 40% of UCB’s total global research spend takes place in the UK. We choose to invest in this country because of the caliber of UK scientists, as well as the Government’s commitment to life sciences funding. This pioneering new robotic technology marks a significant step forward in our ability to develop exciting novel and effective treatments, making UCB’s UK research capabilities more competitive in the global race for drug development.