Roche to hire 200 R&D staffers for new global development center

Roche is plugging a Canadian biotech hub into its growing network of global R&D centers. The pharma giant has selected Ontario as the site of its next big drug research complex, promising to invest up to $190 million over five years and hire some 200 research staffers. That research staff will handle all phases of drug discovery and development, says Roche, along with its five other global R&D hubs.

Like many biotech hubs, Ontario-based developers have had their share of problems attracting new venture funds and spawning new companies. But the region has long been recognized for its innovative biotech work. And development officials wasted no time crowing about the big R&D coup.

Roche's new R&D center "will create a cascade of benefits in the scientific community providing opportunities for collaboration and contribution to the growth of the province's knowledge-based economy," said Canada's economic development minister, Sandra Pupatello.

Ontario officials are contributing close to $8 million to support the work, which starts with renovation efforts slated to begin later this summer and fall. Roche Canada has already begun to hire people for the center, which will be engaged in global study management, global data management and product development regulatory, coordinating clinical development in an R&D network which conducts clinical trials in more than 60 countries.

"We have built a respected clinical expertise within the Roche global network, and this new capability will firmly establish Roche Canada, and the province of Ontario, as a global hub for life sciences and biopharmaceuticals," says Ronnie Miller, the CEO of Roche Canada. "Above all, we are excited about the promise this holds for patients in Canada and around the world."

The R&D world has been in flux in recent years as Big Pharma companies sought a more productive approach to drug development; one that could provide more successes on the regulatory side. But Roche has consistently been one of the biggest spenders in drug research, pushing its acquisition of Genentech as it pursued a multibillion-dollar R&D strategy.

- here's the Roche's release

Special Report: Ontario - Top 5 Regions Targeting Biotech, 2009