Sharp Clinical Services said today it will more than double its workforce by building a new £9.5 million (about $11.9 million) European Clinical Services Centre of Excellence, a multiple-phase pharmaceutical manufacturing, packaging, and distribution facility in Wales.

Sharp, a unit of publicly-traded UDG Healthcare, said it needed the new facility in Rhymney, South Wales, to satisfy increased demand for Phase III clinical and commercial services. The company said it will relocate from its existing Welsh facility in Crickhowell, Powys, which it has outgrown.

In return for £500,000 (about $624,000) in financing from the Welsh government, Sharp has promised to create 73 new jobs and retain all 70 of its existing positions.

The project’s first phase, set for completion by late 2018, will consist of acquiring and renovating a 110,000-square-foot facility within the site. An initial 75,000 square feet will be fitted out in the new facility, which the company said will triple its clinical service capacity for Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and clinical research clients.

The new facility, Sharp said, will enable the company to offer full service support for multiple large-scale Phase III studies, as well as earlier-stage trials, by expanding its manufacturing and analytical capabilities, adding automated bottling, blistering, and serialization, as well as interactive response technology (IRT) services for clinical trial management.

The 10-acre site also holds the potential for further significant capacity and employment expansion, Sharp added.

Sharp’s current Crickhowell facility consists of two buildings totaling 45,000 square feet at Elvicta Business Park. The facility includes 14 primary and secondary packaging rooms; ambient, refrigerated and frozen secure drug storage; and secure vaults for controlled substances. Among key services based there are: analytical and formulation services, packaging storage and distribution, and interactive voice and web response systems.

“We are currently working at capacity at our site in Crickhowell, so this investment gives us a blank canvas to design a modern contract packaging, manufacturing, and distribution facility that meets the evolving needs of drug development companies with single or multiple products at any clinical scale,” Sharp’s president Frank Lis said in a statement.

“The efficient nature of our extended operation will also allow us to seamlessly move clients’ late-phase clinical projects to commercial-scale within our wider global Sharp network of facilities,” Lis added. “This really is a major milestone for our business in the U.K. and will ultimately deliver huge value to our clients in North America, Europe, and Asia.”

Sharp is a global provider of contract pharmaceutical packaging and advanced clinical supply chain services. In addition to the Welsh site, Sharp has clinical services facilities in Phoenixville, PA; as well as Sharp Packaging Solutions facilities in Allentown, PA; Conshohocken, PA; Heerenveen, the Netherlands; and Hamont-Achel, Belgium.

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