Belgium’s UCB has opened its new £25 million biologics R&D centre in Slough, built at a cost of £25 million.

The Brussels-headquartered firm noted that the centre, which will primarily be used for the discovery and early development of therapeutic antibodies, will employ 100 scientists over the next few years in addition to the staff UCB already has at the Slough site.

UCB has been in Slough for a long time and the company’s Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which has just been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, was developed there over 13 years. The firm added that the site is also home for the UCB NewMedicines Centre for Collaborative Research, “a new hub providing access for academic and biotechnology partners to UCB’s world-class antibody generation and engineering capabilities”. It will ultimately be housed within the new biologics centre.

Chief executive Roch Doliveux said that the opening of the centre “secures UCB’s position as a top-tier investor in UK R&D” and will “enable us to compete on an increasingly competitive world stage”. UCB stated that it is the fourth largest investor in UK pharmaceutical R&D, investing over £200 million in 2008.

Speaking at the opening, Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, said the new facility will create jobs “and boost capacity in an industry where the UK is a global leader”. He added that “we have a world-class pharmaceuticals sector “ and the Government "is determined that the UK remains the location of choice for international firms like UCB”.