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18 March, 2013 - 13:16 By Tony Quested

2,000 jobs as AstraZeneca builds new Cambridge HQ

Pascal-Soriot

Biopharma giant AstraZeneca has revealed that it will purpose-build a brand new R & D centre and global corporate headquarters in the Cambridge technology cluster in a £330 million investment bonanza that will create 2,000 jobs for the city.

A spokesperson told Business Weekly that rather than expand at Granta Park, where its biologics division MedImmune is based, the business is scouting a site in Cambridge where it can build a fresh and highly innovative facility.

It wants the development ready to roll by 2016. The corporate HQ is being moved from London. Most of the London staff will move to Cambridge along with hundreds from AZ’s Alderley Edge, Cheshire site, which is being closed.

The proposed 2,000 Cambridge headcount represents the highest staff numbers and largest investment ever created in the Cambridge BioMedTech cluster’s history.

The move is part of the company’s proposals to create three strategic global R & D centres in the UK, US and Sweden to improve pipeline productivity and establish AstraZeneca as a global leader in biopharmaceutical innovation.

AstraZeneca’s small molecule and biologics research and development activities will be concentrated in three strategic centres by 2016: Cambridge UK; Gaithersburg, Maryland in the US; and Mölndal near Gothenburg.

Focusing the company’s UK-based R & D activities at a new centre in Cambridge builds on AstraZeneca’s world-leading protein engineering capabilities already based in the city through MedImmune, the company’s biologics arm based at Granta Park.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said: “Our proposed investment is a clear signal of AstraZeneca’s long-term commitment to the UK and highlights the important role Cambridge plays internationally in bioscience research.

“The Government’s Life Sciences Strategy and the meaningful policies they have put in place in recent years to encourage investment help make Britain an attractive location for biopharmaceutical research and development.

“Cambridge, which boasts strong links with London-based research institutions, is a world-renowned bioscience hotspot that rivals the likes of San Francisco and Boston.

“In a world where partnerships and collaborations drive medical progress, becoming an integral part of the Cambridge ecosystem offers compelling advantages for AstraZeneca, giving us easier access to leading-edge academic and industry networks, scientific talent and valuable partnering opportunities.

“I believe that the investment we are announcing today greatly increases the chances that the next generation of innovative medicines will be invented and manufactured in Britain.”

The new Cambridge site is expected to house a highly-skilled workforce of around 2,000. The consolidation of R & D and some other corporate and global functions at the new facility in Cambridge will impact other UK sites over the next three years.

Under the proposals, research and development work will no longer be carried out at the Alderley Park site in Cheshire which today houses around 2,900 employees. Around 1,600 roles will relocate from Alderley Park over the next three years, with a significant majority going to the new centre in Cambridge and the remainder to the company’s nearby Macclesfield facility or sites overseas.

AstraZeneca’s global headquarters in Paddington, west London, has around 350 employees in commercial, global and corporate functions. It is expected that the majority of these roles will move to the new facility in Cambridge, which will become the company’s new global headquarters.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Pascal Soriot

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