UK steel industry
Business Secretary Greg Clark will reveal details of the government's new industrial strategy on 27 November Getty Images

American pharmaceutical giant MSD has agreed to open a life sciences research facility in Britain, the government has announced.

The move by MSD, known as Merck in the US, would create around 950 jobs in high-skilled and high-value research roles, Business Secretary Greg Clark said.

The announcement comes ahead of the government releasing a white paper on an industrial strategy to raise productivity and power the economy forward after the UK leaves the European Union.

Businesses operating in areas such as life sciences, smart energy, artificial intelligence and robotics are some of those that are expected to receive government assistance so they are encouraged to invest in Britain.

Clark described MSD's investment as a "huge vote of confidence" in the UK's industrial strategy.

"MSD's commitment today, and the wider sector deal investment we have secured proves the process outlined in the industrial strategy can give companies the confidence and direction they need to invest in the UK," the business secretary said.

"It will ensure Britain continues to be at the forefront of innovation and represents a huge vote of confidence in our industrial strategy."

Britain's life sciences sector employs around 233,000 people and generates an annual turnover in excess of £64bn.

The government also announced that diagnostics provider Qiagen was planning to set up a research campus in Manchester, creating around 800 skilled jobs.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced last week that the government was targeting an increase in research and development investment from the current 1.7% of GDP to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 to bring the UK in line with other advanced nations.

"Britain's productivity performance has not been good enough, and is holding back our earning power as a country," Clark said.

"By acting together as a nation, and in a sustained way, to improve the underperforming conditions for productivity we can drive up our earning power."