An influx of international healthcare providers provided a shot in the arm to the Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech) free zone last year as it doubled the number of commercial licences it issued.
In a statement released yesterday, DuBiotech said it issued 40 commercial licences to pharmaceutical, medical and biotechnology companies last year, compared with 21 in 2011.
This helped DuBiotech to push up total occupancy at the park to 60 per cent as international firms such as Bayer Middle East, Lupin Middle East, Life Technologies, Sobi Middle East and Workhardt set up bases in the park. Occupancy for warehouses last year increased from 20 per cent to 75 per cent as the park leased 68,750 square feet to new tenants while existing tenants the perfume producer Firmenich and medical service provider Maquet expanded their operations.
Pharmax Pharmaceuticals also set up its 90,000 square foot, Dh40 million (US$10.8m) factory at the park - DuBiotech's first manufacturing facility.
DuBiotech said that the majority of companies that joined last year came from India and the United States.
They join Pfizer, Amgen, Merck Serono, Bristol-Myers Squibb, International Flavors and Fragrances and other existing tenants.
The company added that Foremarke Hall, the boarding school connected with the British public school Repton, signed a development agreement last year to build a 25,978 square metre school at the park, which is expected to open in September.
Unlike other Dubai free zones, DuBiotech, which is part of the Dubai Holding subsidiary Tecom Investments and was established in 2005, has struggled over the past few years to attract firms to come to its campus off Mohammed bin Zayed Road close to Dubai Motor City.
DuBiotech said last year showed it was at last becoming successful in bringing in multinational firms.
"2012 was an exceptional year of growth for DuBiotech.
"We have made significant progress in all areas of the business and the numbers speak for themselves," said Marwan Abdulaziz, the executive director of DuBiotech and Tecom's Sciences Cluster.
However, the company said it was changing its focus away from trying to attract international tenants to local businesses.
It said that the UAE imports 80 per cent of its medicines, subjecting the nation to currency fluctuations that drive prices up.