Could a global pharmaceutical firm be about to land in Leeds - bringing £1bn of growth with it?

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Leeds could soon be the home of a major global pharmaceutical plant - with hopes high that it will ultimately generate £1billion of growth for the city region.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) - a regional ‘supercouncil’ tasked with attracting investment - is in advanced talks with a company which makes and tests new drugs to treat a wide range of illnesses and conditions, especially in children.

The YEP understands “detailed dialogue” has been taking place to push the Leeds Enterprise Zone as the preferred location for the plant, which has been dubbed Project Beta.

And initial backing has also been given to a £3million grant being provided “to enable the company to commit to locating the facility in Leeds”.

The identity of the company, and the exact nature and use of the grant, is still under wraps.

But it is hinted that the firm could be a global one. The projections are that the plant could create £1bn of growth - and will mean the city region can collect £1million per year in rates which will be retained locally until 2037.

News of the huge project was today welcomed by the region’s business leaders.

Paula Dillon , president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “The potential of Project Beta looks exceptional with the opportunity to bring more investment in to the Enterprise Zone a real coup for the region.

“The Leeds City Region already has one of the largest concentrations of manufacturing jobs in the country and this potential investment, by an as yet unnamed pharmaceutical company, will fit well with the high regional skills base, strong research capabilities in our universities and Europe’s largest teaching hospital which is within a few miles of the proposed site.

“Leeds is already experiencing an investment surge, especially around South Bank and the city centre, and this proposed investment will bring further high skilled job opportunities into the region and we would strongly support the development.”

KEY NUMBERS

‘Project Beta’

£1bn - potential growth for the city region if a plant is located in Leeds

£1mill - a year for the city in business rates until 2037

£3mill - proposed West Yorkshire Combined Authority grant earmarked to help bring the project to Leeds

32.4 billion - annual value of the UK pharmaceutical sector

70,000 - people thought to be employed in the pharma sector in the UK, including 53,000 in discovering, developing and marketing medicines, according to recent research

545 - pharmaceutical companies in the UK

All 20 biggest global firms already have a presence in the UK.

A TRAILBLAZER IN CHILDREN’S MEDICINE?

A report seen by the Yorkshire Evening Post, and approved by WYCA officials, says Project Beta is “accepted as a good strategic fit” with the region. and the £3m grant is seen as “an important part of a wider regional offer to the applicant to enable the company to commit to locating the facility in Leeds”.

The report adds: “Project Beta relates to an application from a company seeking support to establish a new UK based, drug manufacturing facility. Subject to regulatory approval these drugs could treat a wide range of difficult to treat human conditions, particularly in children.

“The Leeds Enterprise Zone was put forward as a location for this company and detailed dialogue has taken place with Leeds City Council and the LEP about funding to help to support the project.

“The company is expected to make a final decision shortly about their preferred location in the UK. The plant could create £1bn growth each year...and rates estimated at £1m per annum.”