Graduates needed to fill new jobs as research company expands; WELSH GOVERNMENT BACKS PLAN WITH PS1.29M OF FINANCE.
US clinical research organisation PRA has opened a new facility in Swansea as part of a major expansion that will create 100 new graduate-level jobs.
PRA's new building, located on Swansea's waterfront, is a significant investment for PRA in Wales.
The company, which currently employs 100 in the city, is expanding its clinical informatics team by establishing a new help desk - creating more positions in the data coordination, clinical programming, and safety groups.
It is planned that the expansion will create 100 new graduate level jobs.
The company's expansion has been backed with PS1.29m in non-repayable finance from the Welsh Government.
PRA's new headquarters were opened yesterday by Business Minister Edwina Hart. She said: "A number of other locations were under consideration for this important expansion project so I am delighted that support from the Welsh Government helped secure it for Wales.
"This investment is particularly welcome as PRA is a strategically important company within the life sciences sector - one of our priority economic sectors with high growth potential."
The minister said that the expansion will create a significant number of highly skilled jobs across a range of disciplines over the next three years and reaffirms PRA's commitment to Wales.
Steve Powell, PRA executive vice president, clinical informatics and late phase services, said: "We are delighted to officially open our expanded location in Swansea. The new site has received substantial funding from the Welsh Government which will mean significant job creation and support for the local economy.
"As a leading CRO, we are committed to the growth of our Swansea team and to transforming clinical trials across all phases of drug development. The new building and jobs demonstrates PRA's commitment to offering a more dynamic service to our customers, both locally and internationally."
PRA, headquartered in North Carolina, employs more than 5,000 employees in more than 50 global offices.
It has had a footprint in Swansea in 1996, when an initial investment from the Welsh Development Agency secured its presence there.
Mr Powell said the company's longevity in the region had helped it continue growth, and the investment from the Welsh Government was "a benefit on top".
He said there was a move within the industry to relocate to places such as China, India and eastern Europe, but PRA's corporate policy is to maintain facilities in traditional markets.
"We really wanted to maintain our presence in Swansea," he said, adding that the company's policy is to use investment in technology to make teams more efficient rather than simply reducing costs.
The Swansea centre is one of PRA's two main hubs for this kind of work in Europe, the other being in Mannheim in Germany.
The company specialises in management and data capture in trials looking at the safety profile and efficacy of drugs.
It particularly focuses on drugs for the management and treatment of cancer and diseases of the central nervous system such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and MS, and infectious diseases, although it also works on drugs outside these three core areas.
The current expansion is based around a two to three year window.
"It's taken us 17 years to get to 100 [employees] and now we're hoping to accelerate that growth," Mr Powell said.
The new facility has capacity for further expansion beyond the additional 100 planned. PRA is keen to recruit high quality graduates from the universities of Swansea, Cardiff and Aberystwyth and South Wales, for a range of jobs from programmers to data managers. Mr Powell said: "We're very fortunate to be able to utilise the university structure here to tap into graduates and offer people employment. The universities have all provided graduates and we've strong ties with them."