AstraZeneca today announced its intention to establish a new global R&D center and corporate headquarters in Cambridge in the UK by 2016. The planned investment of around £330 million (approx. €384 million) to establish a purpose-built site reinforces AstraZeneca’s long-term commitment to the UK and underscores the country’s global importance as a location for biopharmaceutical research and development.
The move is part of the company’s proposals, announced today, to create strategic global R&D centers in the UK, US and Sweden to improve pipeline productivity and to establish AstraZeneca as a global leader in biopharmaceutical innovation. Under the proposed plans, AstraZeneca’s small molecule and biologics research and development activities will be concentrated in three strategic centers by 2016: Cambridge, UK; Gaithersburg, Maryland, US; and Mölndal near Gothenburg, Sweden.
Focusing the company’s UK-based R&D activities at a new center in Cambridge builds on AstraZeneca’s world-leading protein engineering capabilities already based in the city through MedImmune, the company’s biologics arm. Cambridge offers easy access to scientific talent and excellent collaboration opportunities through renowned academic research institutions, pre-eminent hospitals and leading-edge biotech companies. The city also has strong links with important research institutions in London. By 2016, the new site is expected to house a highly-skilled workforce of approximately 2,000.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca 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 consolidation of R&D and some other corporate and global functions at a 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 which today houses around 2,900 employees. Approximately 1,600 roles will relocate from Alderley Park over the next three years, with a significant majority going to the new center in Cambridge and the remainder to the company’s nearby Macclesfield facility or sites overseas. At least 700 non-R&D roles are expected to remain at the site.
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, or to other sites. The Paddington offices are expected to close by 2016.
The proposed changes announced today are estimated to result in an overall headcount reduction of about 700 in the UK from Alderley Park and other sites over the 2013-2016 period. Approximately 300 further roles may be relocated outside the UK. Today, AstraZeneca employs around 6,700 people in the UK.
While the proposals would see a move of research and development employees from Alderley Park to Cambridge over the next three years, AstraZeneca will continue to have a strong presence in the North West with some 3,000 employees at Alderley Park, its Macclesfield manufacturing site and the MedImmune vaccine manufacturing facility in Speke. The company also has extensive and close scientific collaborations with academic institutions such as Manchester University which will continue to play an important role in discovery work.
Pascal Soriot said: “I recognize that our plans will have a significant impact on many of our people at our sites in Cheshire and London and the surrounding communities. We are fully committed to treating all our employees with respect and fairness as we navigate this period of change.
“AstraZeneca remains strongly committed to the North West of England. We are keen to work with central and local government, as well as the business community in the region, to ensure that all practical solutions for the future of Alderley Park are considered in order to support the local economy over the long term.”
The proposals announced today are subject to consultation where appropriate.