UCB sketches grand plans for new headquarters as it grabs Eli Lilly's abandoned neuro R&D campus
Belgium’s UCB is set to invest more than £1 billion ($1.29 billion) in the UK over the next five years — starting with a brand new headquarters built on a campus it’s acquiring from Eli Lilly.
The company has “state-of-the-art refurbishment” planned for the 47-acre facility in Windlesham, Surrey, before it relocates from the current UK home in Slough, Berkshire. For an idea of its scale, UCB boasted that its new campus used to be Lilly’s second-largest research site worldwide.
Lilly had announced last year that it was shuttering the outpost, which had been housing a neuroscience R&D unit, as it consolidated research back into Cambridge, MA. As a result, the pharma giant axed 80 jobs and moved the remaining 270 or so employees to a nearby site.
For UCB, it will now nurture new programs in gene therapy on top of its legacy antibody discovery work and others.
Situated on the outskirts of London — in fact, just 30 minutes from its old campus — the new UK hub will allow scientists to continue collaborating with universities, biotechs and medical research charities, UCB chief Jean-Christophe Tellier noted.
“We have a strong track record of discovering medicines in the UK which go on to make a difference to the lives of patients worldwide,” he said in a statement.
The CEO has been bringing in new assets in neurology and rare diseases to complement a pipeline largely dominated by immunology, first bagging Ra Pharma and its C5 inhibitor for myasthenia gravis in a $2.1 billion buyout and then picking up Engage Therapeutics for $125 million upfront.