There are about 103 major sites in Europe and 105 in the US and Canada, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s Business Briefing: Pharmaceutical report. In Europe, the dominant R&D sites are in Germany, the UK and France, with the UK leading the way in terms of numbers (14 companies and 21 major R&D sites).

Historically, sites were situated in western Europe and in most cases the larger European R&D sites are still located in the companies’ respective countries of historic origin.

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There is now an emerging trend for companies to establish operations in emerging markets such as Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

Cushman & Wakefield said companies see these countries as advantageous to their businesses due to the availability of labour and associated skill sets, the ever increasing technical knowledge and advanced machinery to carry out the work, the availability of land to construct the often required build to suit schemes, cost-efficient alternatives to an increasingly expensive western Europe in terms of R&D, and attractive incentives and tax breaks offered.

According to the report, the US and Canada are home to the largest number of R&D sites, with some companies having more than one operation in each country.

Asia appears to be gaining influence within the overall sector, with some multinationals already established in the region. The majority of companies studied had operations in Japan, followed by Singapore, China and India. Australia also featured, although to a lesser extent.

The influence of the Asian market is expected to increase, especially in light of government funding that is now available and which provides a way in for international companies to previously closed markets.

Among other trends picked up on in the report is that some biotech companies will be acquired by the large pharmaceutical groups, as these biotech companies can provide strong R&D capabilities and may also acquire potential success stories (new drugs at early stages of development).

There is also the possibility of the creation of ‘Big Biotech’ firms by way of consolidation. 2005 saw two major biotech biotech acquisitions (Amgen/Abgenix and Shire/TKT). Amgen now employs more than 18,000 people worldwide.