GlaxoSmithKline to split research

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The Independent Online

The drugs giant being created through the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham is planning to split its research group into eight semi-autonomous units to promote innovation and flexibility among its research staff.

The drugs giant being created through the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham is planning to split its research group into eight semi-autonomous units to promote innovation and flexibility among its research staff.

Each research business unit will be expected to operate profitably and compete for internal funds. GlaxoSmithKline is expected to invest around £2.4bn in 2001 on drugs research.

"There have been concerns that this is getting too big," said one executive with knowledge of both the groups.

"There has always been awareness that size and scale had downsides when you want people to be innovative and think flexibly."

The enlarged group will employ more than 15,000 scientists and there is concern that the benefits of size and scale available to the new company be matched with an inflexible, bureaucratic central management structure. Encouraging innovation is considered a high priority, especially to promote partnerships with academic researchers and institutions.

GlaxoSmithKline is also thought to want to encourage a start-up culture, more common in the United States than in Britain. The enlarged group will employ 100,000 people in 60 countries and have a market capitalisation of £130bn.

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