Danish drugs giant invests in new UK university research centre

Novo Nordisk to invest £115 million in University of Oxford centre despite Brexit

February 2, 2017

Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk will invest more than £100 million over the next 10 years in a new university research centre in the UK.

The collaboration with the University of Oxford will focus on type 2 diabetes and the company will employ up to 100 Novo Nordisk researchers at the centre.

The company says the partnership will allow the cross fertilisation of ideas between academics at the university and its scientists, and offer the funds to sponsor collaborative research.

Novo Nordisk, which has its headquarters Denmark, has been working with Oxford since 2013 through an international postdoctoral fellowship programme. This was extended in 2015 to include up 32 research fellows.

News of the investment comes at a time when researchers are worried about the future of science as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Many have cited concerns that research funding will fall if the country loses access to European research and development programmes and that stricter immigration controls could affect the free movement of academics.

Novo Nordisk’s chief science officer and executive vice-president, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, told Reuters that Brexit created uncertainty for a period of the deliberations.

“It is unfortunate, but we've passed that challenge and I'm convinced we've no need to worry...Oxford is a worldwide powerhouse in medicine,” he said.

In a statement issued by the company, he said that the collaboration “brings together some of the world’s sharpest minds”.

“It combines Novo Nordisk's 90 years' experience in developing treatments for diabetes with the expertise of world leading scientists from the University of Oxford. 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," he added.

Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said that the collaboration gave “an outstanding opportunity to mix” the institution’s competence and the company’s ground breaking research.

“This collaboration underlines the importance of shared research and cutting-edge science across boundaries. Employees at Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford and researchers at the University of Oxford will have the opportunity for daily interaction to share knowledge and insights that will potentially produce new medicines for people living with type 2 diabetes and its complications,” he added.


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