GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is concluding a two-year, $199m investment to upgrade and expand its Quebec City influenza vaccine manufacturing facility.

The investment has enabled the Quebec City facility to increase manufacturing capacity of seasonal influenza vaccine to 75 million doses per year. The facility will also play a pivotal role in providing a secure supply of pandemic vaccines to support the Canadian government’s pandemic readiness plans.

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“The company’s investment in the Quebec City vaccine manufacturing facility is part of an ongoing commitment to Quebec, contributing to the province’s growing position as a hub for the biopharmaceutical industry,” said Paul Lucas, GSK Canada president and CEO. “With increased capacity in Quebec City, GSK is able to fulfil contracts to supply seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines to governments around the world, including Canada.”

As well as increasing manufacturing capacity, the investment in the Quebec City site involved extensive upgrades of the existing facilities, the creation of additional space and the installation of innovative new equipment.

GSK has also doubled the size of its vaccine workforce in Quebec City since January 2006.

The company already supplies about 75% of the Canadian government’s seasonal flu vaccine purchases and will provide Canada with a pandemic vaccine in the event of an influenza pandemic.

In June 2007, it announced that its Laval, Quebec, site was designated North American administrative and research and development headquarters for the company’s vaccine division.

With global headquarters in Rixensart, Belgium, GSK’s vaccines division has four facilities in North America: in Quebec City; Hamilton, Montana; Columbia, Maryland; and Marietta, Pennsylvania.

The Quebec province is a well established hub for bio-pharma R&D activity on the strength of its scientific skills base and its generous tax treatment of R&D.

“One of the cornerstones of innovative industry is tax credits. We are the most advanced in Canada and one of the most advanced in North America in terms of refundable tax credits for R&D,” Raymond Bachand, Quebec’s minister of economic development, innovation and export trade, told fDi.

“We have personal exemption from income tax for the first five years for foreign researchers and managers coming here, which is quite attractive. It is not a 100% exemption, but works on a sliding scale.”