MPI Research, a US contract research organisation (CRO) focused on preclinical services, is planning capital investment totalling US$330 million to expand its operations in its home state of Michigan.

The investment programme, announced by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, is expected to create 3,300 new positions at MPI and indirectly generate another 3,300 jobs in the financially strapped US state.

Around US$300 million of the investment will go on expanding MPI’s existing campus in Mattawan, Michigan, which should create some 2,900 new jobs. The other 400 direct positions will come from a US$30 million investment to adapt two buildings vacated by Pfizer in Kalamazoo to accommodate MPI’s growing discovery services business.

This latter development is contingent on final negotiations between MPI, the city of Kalamazoo and Pfizer. The US pharmaceutical giant intends to donate the buildings to the city, which will then lease them to MPI.

Granholm described the investment programme as one of the largest ever life-sciences expansions in the history of Michigan. Based on a recommendation from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Board approved a state tax credit worth US$86 million over 15 years to secure MPI’s commitment.

MPI plumped for Michigan in preference to competing sites in Pennsylvania and China. Last December the CRO announced a joint venture with China’s Shanghai Medicilon to set up a 50,000sq ft preclinical testing facility in Shanghai’s Chuansha Economic Park. The new company, Medicilon-MPI Preclinical Research (Shanghai) LLC, is expected to be fully operational by 2009, offering preclinical services to US Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standards.