AstraZeneca to build new HQ, research center in Cambridge, UK

June 19, 2013

AstraZeneca is investing about £330 million ($515.6 million) in its new building, which will host a global R&D center.

Photo credit: Alexander Raths/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Anglo-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has selected a site where its brand new state-of-the-art headquarters will be located. The facility will be built in Cambridge in the UK, more specifically at the Biomedical Campus next to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge News reported.

AstraZeneca is investing about £330 million ($515.6 million) in its new building. Apart from having administrative functions, the complex will host a new global R&D center, the company announced. It will also be the company's biggest oncology research center and will host teams working on developing treatment for cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases and conditions of the central nervous system. New facilities for medicinal chemistry and high-throughput screening will also be part of the new complex.

In March, the biopharma manufacturer announced that it had plans to move its corporate headquarters from London and its R&D facility from Cheshire and to bring them together in a bid to consolidate assets and optimize operations. The new site was announced after months of speculation regarding the precise location. MedImmune, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca, will also leave science and technology hub Granta Park to move to the new facility.

The new headquarters should be ready by 2016 and will provide jobs to approximately 2,000 highly-skilled specialists, including the 500 staff of MedImmune. AstraZeneca plans to create similar R&D centers in the United States and in Sweden, which will help the company cement its position as a leader in biopharma innovation.

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According to Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca chief executive, Cambridge is a well established center for life sciences and innovation, so it is the perfect place to house the company's ambitious project. Being at the heart of this scientific and technological hub will open new opportunities for AstraZeneca to develop future collaborations and partnerships, he added.

The move will be highly beneficial for Cambridge as well, experts commented. The presence of a huge biopharma company like AstraZeneca could trigger further investments and help Cambridge to grow. Soriot pointed out that the company's decision to settle there is further proof of AstraZeneca's commitment to the UK and is an opportunity for the next generation of medicines to be developed in the country.

The move was welcomed by David Willetts, minister for universities and science at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. He claimed that the British life science industry can benefit a lot from AstraZeneca's investment, as it adds to the UK industry's global competitiveness. This has been one of the government's major priorities in its life sciences program, which aims to strengthen Britain's position as the most suitable place for medical innovations, he added.

Another positive comment came from Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Cambridge University vice-chancellor, who stated that the choice of AstraZeneca was an indication that Cambridge offered a world-class environment for the development of knowledge-based industries. So far, more than 1,500 companies have become part of the Cambridge high-tech cluster, which stimulates cooperation and sharing, he concluded.

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