Takeda Splurges On Research | February 28, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 9 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 9 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: February 28, 2011

Takeda Splurges On Research

Pharma R&D: Japanese firm opens $1.8 billion center
Department: Business
Keywords: corporate R&D, pharmaceutical research, Millennium
Takeda’s new R&D center near Tokyo consists of five linked 10-story buildings.
Credit: Takeda
Takeda’s new R&D center near Tokyo consists of five linked 10-story buildings.
Credit: Takeda

Takeda Pharmaceutical, Japan’s largest drug company, has inaugurated a major corporate R&D center near Tokyo. The move represents a commitment to in-house research at home when most other major drug companies are outsourcing research, licensing compounds, or building R&D facilities abroad.

The $1.8 billion center is located in Shonan, a seaside region of Kanagawa prefecture just south of Tokyo. The new facility will be staffed mostly by researchers who are now based 300 miles away in Osaka. Other researchers in Tsukuba, a science-oriented city an hour by train to the north of Tokyo, will also move to Shonan. The center will accommodate 1,200 scientists and 800 support staff.

“A location so close to Tokyo will make it easier to attract talented scientists,” says Mayo Mita, a pharmaceutical industry analyst at the Tokyo office of investment bank Morgan Stanley. The Osaka facility, she adds, is getting quite old. Mita notes that the center will not focus exclusively on in-house R&D; it will also include work space dedicated to managing external alliances.

Consolidating research activities at the Shonan center will simplify decision making for Osaka-based Takeda, says Mihoko Shinomiya, a Takeda spokeswoman. “This will be our R&D engine,” she says. Until now, the Tsukuba site developed cutting-edge drug discovery techniques, and Osaka conducted the actual R&D.

The new center will also serve as a hub where researchers based at Takeda R&D sites in the U.S., Singapore, and the U.K. can come to work with their Japanese colleagues. In this multinational environment, Shinomiya adds, people from other countries should be more comfortable becoming part of the Takeda scientific staff permanently based in Japan.

Takeda expects to complete the switch to the new center in October. So far, few employees have said they won’t make the move, Shinomiya says.

The research center is another bold move for Takeda, which acquired U.S.-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals in 2008 for $8.8 billion. The investment is no guarantee of research success, however. “I have no idea whether it will help to replenish the R&D pipeline,” Morgan Stanley’s Mita says.

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