UPDATE: Eli Lilly to build $70M R&D building in Indianapolis

Eli Lilly and Co. on Monday morning announced plans to add a 130,000-square-foot building to its Indianapolis research-and-development headquarters.

The $70 million investment is the latest in a string of moves by the Indianapolis-based drugmaker to bulk up its hometown presence. In 2013, the company launched a $400 million expansion of its insulin manufacturing operations.

The facility will be built along Morris street at the Lilly Technology Center-North campus, next to Lilly building K301.

The new building will feature a multi-disciplinary laboratory that facilitates collaboration across multiple research areas.

"We are excited to grow our presence in Indianapolis, which is home to our largest global R&D facility and where our research efforts began," Jan Lundberg, executive vice president of science and technology and president of Lilly Research Laboratories, said in a statement. "Evolving our laboratories will position Lilly and its Indianapolis-based scientists to more efficiently discover and develop new treatments that will make life better."

Lilly employs 4,400 R&D workers in Indianapolis, the biggest chunk of its 7,000 R&D employees worldwide. The company said there were no jobs currently planned for this expansion.

"However, we are always reevaluating our staffing needs so that we can best support our business," a Lilly spokeswoman told IBJ in an email. "For instance, we’ve added 100 additional jobs as a part of our 2013 expansion, beyond our original commitment."

Lilly has applied for a real-property tax abatement on the proposed expansion that will save it $6.6 million over a 10-year abatement period, the Department of Metropolitan Development disclosed Monday.

Lilly will still pay about $6.7 million in property taxes during the abatement period on the increased value of the property, plus another $11.8 million it is paying now on the existing property. After the abatement period, Lilly will pay an estimated $1.3 million annually in property on the improvements.

Lilly said the tax break would help it retain 175 employees involved in insulin production making an average wage of $31 per hour.

The tax-break request will go before the Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday for preliminary approval. It would also require City-Council approval before coming back to the MDC for final approval Nov. 18.

Upon completion in 2017, the new Indianapolis building will enable organic chemists and engineers to work side by side with modeling, analytical and formulation scientists. Key to this strategy will be flexible laboratories that can adapt as research and technology needs evolve, as well as open, interactive meeting spaces that are meant to spark creativity and multi-disciplinary problem-solving, the company said.
The laboratory will focus its efforts on small molecules—treatments typically taken orally.
"Ultimately, innovation is often tied to where and how we work together, so we wanted to create an environment that could unlock this potential," Bret Huff, vice president of small molecule design and development, said in a statement. "We believe this expansion will allow for greater collaboration among Lilly's small molecule research experts, which will help to further accelerate the development of new medicines within the company's core therapeutic areas."
This is Lilly's fourth R&D expansion this year. In May, Lilly announced it would build a delivery and device innovation center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In July, Lilly announced an expansion of its biotechnology center in San Diego, California. In October, Lilly announced an expansion of its presence at the Alexandria Center for Life Science in New York City.


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