Novartis says it will add 300 new jobs and invest $600 million to expand its global research headquarters campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The building work, which will take place over the next five years, will be carried out on land leased from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Novartis' neighbour in the area, and will begin next year. The campus will be expanded by more than 400,000 square feet, including laboratory, office and retail space.

Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, noted that the Swiss major was the first global pharmaceutical company to move its research HQ to Massachusetts, in 2002. Since then, the firm "has achieved prominence and, we believe, helped to amplify Cambridge's magnetism for others in the biomedical field to follow," he added.

Dr Fishman went on to say "our scientists and physicians here already have discovered a host of new medicines, and established fruitful collaborations with academic, clinical, and biotech institutions". He concluded by saying that "the constellation of talent and environment are unmatched" and "we look forward to the next wave of new medicines coming from this centre". In Cambridge. Novartis employs more than 2,000 associates and occupies more than 1 million square feet of laboratory and office space, making it the city's largest corporate employer.  

As well as being home to Harvard and MIT (and facilities at the heart of Pfizer R&D), Cambridge is the centre of the biotechnology world, hosting the likes of Alkermes, Amgen, Biogen Idec and Genzyme Corp, to name just a few. The city's chamber of commerce claims that the cluster of biotechs, specifically in the Kendall Square area, has earned it the nickname 'Genetown'.