Novo Nordisk lays out plans to recruit 6,000 workers in R&D, production

Novo Nordisk ($NVO) has been staffing up its sales and marketing teams in the U.S. at a time when bigger rivals are cutting back. Turns out, the Danish drugmaker has big plans for expansion back home as well.

The company says it plans to add 6,000 new employees in Denmark by 2022, half of those in R&D, and the rest in production. That's about 15% growth on Novo Nordisk's current worldwide work force of about 40,000, and a 36% increase in Denmark, where the company now employs about 16,700.

The hiring plans were announced at a conference at Novo Nordisk headquarters to touch off a debate about the Danish workforce. The company apparently is pushing for improvements in education and job training, as well as better access to workers from overseas. According to a Novo Nordisk spokeswoman, half of the new job openings will be for "highly educated technical and scientific employees."

"With the expectation of creating 6,000 new jobs in Denmark over the coming years, it will be crucial for Novo Nordisk that Denmark educates world-class graduates but also focuses far more intently on attracting international talent," says Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen.

Novo Nordisk has been expanding its R&D and production facilities in Denmark, with several new plants and R&D centers slated to come online over the next few years. One new R&D facility is under construction near Novo Nordisk's Bagsvaerd, Denmark, headquarters, aiming for a 2016 opening. The company says it is investing $100 million in that plant, which will produce active ingredients for in-development diabetes drugs, including early-phase projects.

On the manufacturing side, one new biopharmaceuticals packaging facility opened last year in Kalundborg, and associated operations there are expected to ramp up in 2015. The company also recently converted an existing Kalundborg facility to produce semaglutide, a once-weekly diabetes drug it's developing with a half-dozen late-stage trials, including head-to-head studies against AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Bydureon, Sanofi's ($SNY) Lantus, and Merck's ($MRK) Januvia.

The company is also building a new facility in Måløv, Denmark, which already houses two research centers, one for diabetes and another for biopharmaceuticals, including its hemophilia clotting-factor research.

- read the Novo Nordisk release

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