The government is calling two major new investments in the UK by pharma firms a “huge vote of confidence” in its approach to industrial strategy.

MSD has confirmed plans to plans to establish a UK Discovery Centre, following similar investments in new biomedical centres in the San Francisco Bay Area and Cambridge Massachusetts.

“We are in the early stages of seeking a site in London and at this stage, we are unable to give an investment figure,” the firm noted.

But it did reveal that it expects the site to house nearly 1,000 employees, “including a state of the art facility for 150 new research scientists as well as 800 existing additional staff for the UK domestic market and other European clinical functions who are currently based in MSD UK’s Hoddesdon headquarters”.

“A new UK location will enable us to build on our proud legacy of invention and be an important contributor to the vibrant and rapidly growing UK life sciences community, while providing access for more collaborations within the European life science ecosystem,” noted MSD’s Research Laboratories president Roger Perlmutter.

A brand new partnership between leading diagnostics company QIAGEN and Health Innovation Manchester to develop a genomics and diagnostics campus in the city was also announced.

“Investments by world-renowned companies like MSD and QIAGEN demonstrate that the UK’s science base is truly world-leading and an exceptional national strength,” said chair of the Life Science Industrial Strategy Advisory Board, Sir John Bell.

“It is clear that the UK can, through a collaborative partnership between government, industry, academia, charities and the NHS, deliver the next wave of innovation that will benefit patients, transform the health care system, and generate economic growth and improved productivity”.

The news came as the government unveiled its flagship Industrial Strategy, with a long-term plan for how the country can best build on its economic strengths, address its productivity challenge, positively embrace technological change, and support businesses and its workers.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the Strategy “deliberately strengthens the five foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places,” to address current weaknesses and ultimately boost the country’s earning power.

Each foundation is supported by a range of policies designed to provide businesses with certainty and reassurance that the UK will continue to have a competitive edge, such as raising total R&D investment to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2027; increasing the rate of R&D tax credit to 12 percent; and investing £725 million in new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes, “to capture the value of innovation”.

The government also confirmed that it is pressing ahead with a stream of Sector Deals, with Life Sciences included in the first batch. For the industry, the deal will “drive investment in the UK’s world-leading research infrastructure and boost productivity in the sector,” it said.

“We now look forward to further detail on the sector deals between the pharmaceutical industry and government on the back of Sir John Bell’s impressive Life Sciences Industrial Strategy,” commented ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson.

“These deals are just the first steps but will be instrumental in securing the future strength of the UK life sciences industry, helping the UK economy prosper and allowing NHS patients to get better and faster access to world-class medicines discovered and developed here in Britain.”