24 July 1998

£364m for bio-tech studies

SWISS-based life sciences company Novartis is to invest $600m (£364m) over the next 10 years in plant biotechnology research.

The first step will be the creation of the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute, located in San Diego, California, where 180 researchers will be employed.

The aim is to identify gene function and placement within crops and crop pests, and match these to traits. "This unique, scientific network will generate a stream of innovative, highly competitive technologies and products," says Daniel Vasella, company president.

Last year, Novartis reported agribusiness sales of $8.3bn (£5bn).