Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline is to “rev up” its research and manufacturing operations through a tie-up with Formula 1 team McLaren.
The five-year partnership will see the two firms build a new £20m (€22.92m) research facility at McLaren’s headquarters in Woking, Surrey, with Glaxo sharing the F1 group’s expertise in engineering, analytics and modelling.
Glaxo chief executive Andrew Witty said the partnership brought together two British companies that needed to innovate and respond to change.
Ron Dennis, McLaren’s executive chairman, said the intention of the partnership - its first with a major pharmaceuticals group – is for Glaxo to use Formula 1 technology across a wide variety of its divisions.
A strategic programme is being evaluated to apply McLaren’s engine modelling system to Glaxo’s manufacturing processes to reduce breakdowns and improve customer service.
Analytical tools will also be developed to help decide where and how much to invest in Glaxo’s brands, that include Lucozade, Panadol and Sensodyne.
McLaren’s system of in-car driver communications is being looked at as a way of making minor changes during drug trials, while Glaxo also wants to replicate McLaren’s “Mission Control” operation during a race at its London HQ to respond faster to competitor moves.
A Glaxo spokesman said the tie-up stemmed from conversations between the two company chiefs about how their companies operate, after which it became “obvious that McLaren could really help Glaxo”.
The UK angle was also important, with both firms keen to come up with a way to encourage more young people in Britain to get into science.
The F1 group will earn a consultancy fee from the arrangement.