Novartis has announced that it will invest $1bn in China over the next five years to boost pharmaceutical research and development and expand the Novartis Institute of BioMedical Research in Shanghai.

The investment will be used to help bolster the rapidly growing demand for healthcare in China and to align with government efforts to expand access to affordable basic medical services to all citizens by 2020.

The expansion of the centre, which will be relocated in Shanghai, is expected to boost the development of new drugs including small molecule and biological medicines analytics and biomarkers, as well as in vivo pharmacology, protein production, proteomics, genomics and imaging.

Novartis chairman and CEO Daniel Vasella said that the firm is confident that its expanded investment in R&D will result in innovative therapies for patients in China and other countries.

“We are also pleased to contribute to the Shanghai Government‘s aim to establish the city as the premiere R&D centre for China’s biomedicine industry by 2012,” Vasella said.

Novartis also announced that it has invested $250m in a new global technical centre opening in Changshu, focused on technical research, development and manufacturing activities of active pharmaceutical ingredients.