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GEN News Highlights : Sep 20, 2012

Roche Takes a Bite of the Big Apple

Roche will establish a new R&D hub within the second tower planned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities for its New York City biopharma campus, where the company plans to shift about 200 jobs from a New Jersey campus set to close next year.

The pharma giant signed an 11-year lease for the approximately 421,000-square-foot West tower within the Alexandria Center for Life Science–New York City, the campus’ owner-developer said today. Roche will use the space to establish a new Translational Clinical Research Center (TCRC) that will house its Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) units.

In a statement, Roche said the TCRC is designed to enhance connections to U.S. stakeholders, maintain interactions with FDA, and enhance collaborations with U.S.-based partners. TCRC employees will lead global early development programs and clinical trials, as well as develop strategy and implement translational research programs focused on disease understanding and development of potential new treatments. The center will also take projects from discovery in Europe and transition them from early to late development stages.

“This will be a strategically important site for Roche,” Mike Burgess, M.D., acting global head of Roche pRED, said in the statement.

He said Roche chose the Alexandria campus from several potential sites in New York and New Jersey. Roche’s decision comes nearly three months since the company said it will shut down its 83-year-old R&D campus in Nutley, NJ, by the end of 2013, idling most of its 1,000 employees based there.

Today Roche took pains to publicly praise New Jersey officials, saying their effort resulted in the company opting to retain about 50 management-level positions in northern New Jersey.

In return for Roche’s promises to spend $13 million for renovating and equipping its space, and base 235 jobs there by 2018, New York state’s economic development agency Empire State Development awarded Roche $6.6 million in tax credits from the state Excelsior Jobs Program. Excelsior Jobs gives tax credits to employers in biotech and other “strategic” industries that create jobs or make “significant” capital investments.

The tower, slated for completion during the fourth quarter of 2013, will rise near the campus’ existing 15-floor, 310,000-square-foot laboratory/office building, which opened in 2010. The existing building also has a big pharma presence—namely the research headquarters of Eli Lilly’s ImClone Systems subsidiary.

Alexandria originally planned to break ground on the second building about four years ago, but held off construction activity there and at most of its portfolio after the financial market meltdown of late 2008.