Pharmaceutical world leader staying on Teesside thanks to Wilton Centre
A top drug development and manufacturing company at the end of its lease at the former ICI site in Billingham has found suitable alternative lab space at The Wilton Centre.
Staff working for the biocatalysis division of Piramal Healthcare had feared they might have to move out of Teesside after more than 20 years, but now they are happily settling into the fully-serviced laboratory complex located between Middlesbrough and Redcar.
Robert Holt, Director of Biocatalysis, said the alternative had been to take a free-standing unit on a science park which would have been nowhere near as attractive as The Wilton Centre.
"The Wilton Centre provides a professional looking environment in keeping with our industry’s needs," he added. "Having access to services such as waste-handling, safety infrastructure, library facilities, meeting rooms, restaurant and conferencing facilities is all highly advantageous.
"Being close to CPI's National Industrial Biotechnology Facility (NIBF) which is also based at The Wilton Centre - is a nice bonus as there is likely to be considerable synergy between what we both do."
Piramal Healthcare is an integrated pharmaceutical company involved in drug discovery, drug development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceutical products. Its biocatalysis division originated in ICI Billingham as part of its pharmaceutical activities but, as the company fragmented, the division has evolved through Zeneca and Avecia before being bought from Avecia by Piramal Healthcare in 2005.
The transfer of the biocatalysis division from Avecia to Piramal Healthcare was smoothed by an agreement that permitted them to remain in the Billingham laboratories for 2 years but it was the termination of that agreement that prompted the search for new premises.
This specialist technology group, which is involved in the development of novel, cost-effective ways to synthesise pharmaceuticals based on the application of enzymes, is now occupying a 1,000 sq ft lab at the Wilton Centre as well as an office and storage area.
Accommodation Manager Steve Duffield said the site and its amenities were designed with companies like Piramal Healthcare in mind.
"Its Biocatalysis division is a world leader in the discovery, development and application of biocatalysts in the manufacture of complex pharmaceuticals and we are delighted that our facilities have enabled such a top team to remain on Teesside," Steve added.
The team based at Wilton has experience of biocatalysis stretching back 20 years and in addition to running its own projects will be involved in directing a satellite biocatalysis group based at the company headquarters in Mumbai, India. As part of the operations visitors from the Mumbai laboratory will be hosted for extended periods to work on joint projects and share experience.
Said Robert Holt: "Depending on business developments, we hope to expand our permanent team over the next few years which may require expansion into additional laboratory space. The Wilton Centre has the capacity to enable us to do this without having to move again!"