Daiichi Sankyo has made Buckinghamshire the European centre of its early-stage clinical programmes with the opening of a new R&D building at Gerrards Cross.

The Japanese firm, which already has its UK headquarters at Gerrards Cross, said the newly combined facility will now provide jobs for over 120 staff, with an overall combined annual budget of around £30 million.

The new facility will house an expanded drug development unit that will organise Phase I studies and assist in mid to late-stage trials. Potential new treatments for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, pain and many others will come under the scope of the unit, according to the firm.

The opening was carried out by George Freeman MP (Mid Norfolk) who is life sciences adviser to David Willets, the minister for universities and science.

Freeman said: “People often forget the economic benefits the life science industry brings to the UK. It provides income, employment and major investment. Earnings from the exports of medicines exceeded imports by £7 billion in 2009 and the industry has been a net earner for Britain throughout all of the past 30 years.

“The fact that an international company chooses to invest in the UK is a telling endorsement of the calibre of the health research infrastructure we have here and the people working in it. Britain wants to be a major partner in the production of tomorrow’s medicines – and this expanded unit is an important step on that journey.”

Dr Simon Clough, the UK general manager for Daiichi Sankyo, said apart from the medical value of the work, the new unit would contribute to the local economy.

“Tokyo is nearly 6,000 miles from Gerrards Cross but the eyes of the most senior people in our company are looking at what we do here. It is a ringing endorsement of the work we do in Gerrards Cross and the UK as a whole.  It makes me immensely proud to be an essential part of the process of bringing potentially new solutions to the health problems of the world.”