Despite Brexit looming Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is to establish a diabetes research centre in Oxford, which will be a £115m investment.

The decision was made due to the talent at Oxford University which the company said was world leading.

A company spokesman said, “Right now, there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to the consequences of Brexit. Obviously, less uncertainty would have been preferable.  The uncertainties of Brexit are unfortunate but do not challenge this next step of a long collaboration between Novo Nordisk and University of Oxford.”

Perfect Collaboration

The centre will be based at Oxford University and employ a hundred researchers.  The £115 million investment will be paid over ten years.  Sir John Bell, Reigus Professor of Medicine at Oxford University said it was a good opportunity to mix campus competence with Novo’s research and results into the diabetes condition.

The company has filled the head of the facility position appointing Professor James D Johnson.  He is a specialist researcher in the fundamental biology of pancreatic islets, insulin action, diabetes and related conditions.

Although the research will be carried out in Oxford, drug development will be carried out in Denmark, and although the Oxford team will get some recognition the lion’s share of commercial spoils will go to the Danish arm of the company.

Investment in British Universities

Over recent years foreign investors have been donating heavily in British universities, capitalising on the array of research and academic talent.  China, Singapore, and Oman have recently invested £300m in Oxford University in a fund to commercialise research.

Mads Krogsgarrd Thomsen, chief science officer and executive vice president of Novo Nordsik, said, “This collaboration brings together some of the world’s sharpest minds in the field of diabetes to seek new targets for therapeutic innovation.

“It combines Novo Nordisk’s 90 years’ experience in developing treatments for diabetes with the expertise of world-leading scientists from the University of Oxford.  Our vision is that the unique combination of industrial and academic know-how will eventually lead to a new generation of treatments to improve the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes.”