A health care company employing 450 people in Thetford is to get a £2 million grant to fund new research.
The award has been made by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to innovative health giant Baxter, which has its UK manufacturing base in Caxton Way.
Investment in Baxter’s Thetford manufacturing facility will further increase productivity of our IV fluid manufacturing and tap into new technologies.Andy Goldney, general manager
LEP bosses say the grant will enable experimental development to be completed leading to new manufacturing capabilities.
This will include additional training, apprenticeships and raising skill levels of workers.
The grant will support the company’s multi-million pound investment in the Thetford plant, which involves upgrading its infrastructure and installing innovative manufacturing technology and equipment.
Baxter, which has been in Thetford for 51 years, is the only manufacturer of intravenous fluids within the UK, providing the NHS with a major share of supply of (IV) fluid bags.
About 100 other local jobs are also dependent on the site.
Andy Goldney, general manager for the UK, Ireland and Nordic at Baxter, said: “We would like to thank New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Norfolk County Council for their support throughout this process.”
“Investment in Baxter’s Thetford manufacturing facility will further increase productivity of our IV fluid manufacturing and tap into new technologies to increase our capabilities and flexibility.
“It also builds on the plant’s 50-year history of providing critical medicines that help save and sustain lives in the UK and around the world.
Norfolk County Council played a leading role in the discussions with Baxter and the LEP and in the development of the funding package.
Mark Pendlington, LEP chairman, said: “Baxter is at the forefront of cutting-edge development in the international health care industry.
“Their investment will create a world-class facility in life-saving treatments, boost innovation and broaden the range of skills of its workforce – which in turn will increase their productivity and secure significant economic benefit for Thetford and the wider ambitions of the A11 technology corridor.
“That is why the LEP board agreed to support Baxter’s long-term plans - to help secure the future of this valuable manufacturing base and its vital importance on the wider growth of our regional economy.”
Cllr Cliff Jordan, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “Baxter is a great company and exactly the sort of employer we want to support in Norfolk.
“I am really pleased that the council played such a central part in developing their relationship with the LEP.
“I want us to continue working with Baxter to see if there are other imaginative ways that the council can support potential future expansion at the plant in Thetford.”
Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “I am delighted that this investment will be made in Thetford.
“Baxter is well placed to benefit from the science, engineering and innovation triangle that is rapidly growing between Kings Lynn, Norwich and Cambridge.
“In discussions I held late last year with Baxter, the Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman MP and the LEP in Thetford, investment to update plant and machinery, associated skills, and the funding required was all discussed.
“It is therefore great news this money will now be invested in the site in Thetford, protecting 500 jobs and providing future employment opportunities.
“I know the LEP, Baxter and Norfolk County Council have all been working closely together to secure the funding and this commitment by Baxter to Thetford will give a significant economic boost to South West Norfolk and the region as a whole.”