UK announces pharma investment, aims to boost productivity

Britain has announced a major investment by U.S. drug-maker Merck, as the U.K. government unveils plans to boost productivity after Brexit.

The government says Merck, known internationally as MSD, will open a research hub, creating 950 jobs.

The government is touting the announcement as economic good news, after the U.K.'s budget watchdog sharply downgraded growth forecasts for the coming years amid uncertainty over the economic impact of Britain's exit from the European Union.

One nagging economic worry is productivity, which lags behind other major European economies such as Germany and France.

Britain's Conservative government on Monday announced plans to invest 735 million pounds ($970 million) in areas including artificial intelligence, driverless cars and the life sciences, "with the aim of making the U.K. the world's most innovative nation by 2030."