Eli Lilly completes expansion of San Diego biotech center

The investment is for preferred equity in a joint venture between Simone Ventures and San Diego Carté Hotel for a 240-room Curio Collection hotel in San Diego.
The San Diego, California, skyline

Eli Lilly has completed the expansion of its biotech facility in San Diego. The Big Pharma has more than doubled the size of the West Coast site and installed an automated, remote-controlled drug design and testing studio. 
 
The $90 million expansion has added 180,000 square feet to the 125,000-square-foot campus Lilly moved into in 2009. Lilly has used this extra capacity to provide spaces where its biotech, discovery chemistry and research technology employees can collaborate. It also will house an automated studio remote researchers can use to design, synthesize and screen investigational drugs. 
 
This remotely controlled facility is reminiscent of the labs set up by startup service providers such as Emerald Therapeutics and Transcriptic. It also means researchers other than the 200-plus housed at the San Diego site can make use of the capabilities. 
 
Lilly has talked up San Diego as a “game changer” for its drug discovery operation. But the remote drug design studio has contributed to the facility expanding faster than the number of local scientists it employs. Lilly employed “nearly 200 scientists” at the original, 125,000-square-foot campus in 2009. Today, Lilly employs “more than 200 scientists” at the expanded, 300,000-square-foot operation. 
 
The Big Pharma put the cost of the expansion at $90 million. Management framed the outlay as part of its plans to invest $850 million in its U.S. operations this year. Lilly unveiled that President Donald Trump-appeasing number in March. But work on the expansion—and the associated expenditure—started long before this year. 
 
Lilly first unveiled plans to expand the facility in July 2015. At that time, Lilly aimed to complete the work in 2016. But in the end the grand unveiling was pushed back until this week. That allowed Lilly to unveil the facility while San Diego is hosting the BIO International Convention.  
 
The hope now is that the expanded San Diego operation can drive forward an R&D group that has suffered its fair share of setbacks in recent years. 
 
“Expanding our presence in San Diego will not only help us discover and deliver innovative medicines faster, but will also help us achieve our goal of launching 20 new medicines in 10 years,” Lilly EVP Jan Lundberg, Ph.D., said in a statement.
 

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