Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment has signed an MOU with Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis, saying the corporation will contribute $857 million to GDP by 2024.

 The ministry said the agreement will expand the kingdom’s biopharmaceutical capabilities with local investment activities in cell & gene (C&G) therapy, transfer of technologies, clinical research development and next-generation therapies.

 The collaboration will reduce the burden on Saudi Arabia’s national healthcare budget and build local talent and capabilities, the ministry said.

It includes the co-creation of (C&G) centres of excellence, implementation of a long-term strategic co-manufacturing plan, and has an aim of 75 percent Saudisation.

Over the past year, the ministry has signed agreements with pharmaceutical companies Jannsen, AstraZeneca, GSK, and Roche.

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Daniel Luiz)