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Biotech boost as Lilly pumps pounds 45m into plant.

Byline: Louise Davies

LIVERPOOL'Sbid to become a national biotech manufacturing centre was given a pounds 45m shot-in-the-arm last night by a US-based pharmaceutical giant.

Directors of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly say the massive in vestment at its south Liverpool factory will create 75 new jobs.

The Speke Operations site, which has a 460-strong workforce, is Lilly's worldwide supplier of Humatrope, a biotech product used to treat growth hormone deficienc y.

It is already the UK's largest bulk biotech nolo gy manufacturing facility.

News of the extracashboost, which comes 24 hours after the firm initially revealed plans to in vest pounds 28m in Speke, will enable Lilly to significantly increase production of Humantr ope for the world market. Humantr ope is used in a medical condition, once kno wn as dwarfism, to promote growth.

Bosses at Lilly said the money will be spent on modernising and expanding the facility in Fleming Roadand is part of a pounds 220m in vestment programme by the company in the UK over the next four years.

Speke/Garston has already been earmarked as the site of a UK centre of excellence in the biotech manufacturing sector.

The aim is for pharmaceutical companies and the bio-industry to work with local uni versities to create a world-class cluster of production link ed to product development and tapping into academic research.

And, earlier this week, John Lambert, the president of Chiron Vaccines, pledged to develop and expand PowderJect's Liverpool plant in Speke following a pounds 542m takeover.

Last night, a spokesman for Lilly said: ``This represents our largest financial commitment to any single European country . This in vestment reinf orces Speke's position as the largest bulk bio- tech nolo gy facility in the UK.''

Lilly said 25 full-time jobs will follow the modernisation and expansion and 50 building jobs will be needed for the project.

Garston MPMariaEagle and Kno wsley south MP Eddie O'Haraboth welcomed Lilly's in vestment.

Mr O'Hara said: ``It confirms Merseyside as a world leader in bulk bio-manufacturing.''

Lilly Speke Operations has recently won the highest status for excellence in an industry recognised standards qualification.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 22, 2003
Words:349
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