AstraZeneca picks site for new global home in Cambridge

LONDON Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:08pm IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   

LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca has chosen a science park on the southern outskirts of Cambridge, England, next to the world-renowned Addenbrooke's Hospital, for its new $500 million global headquarters and research center.

Property industry sources told Reuters last month that the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) was the most likely site for the new facility, which will house some 2,000 employees - a decision confirmed by the drugmaker on Tuesday.

Transplanting the heart of the company to the university city is the centerpiece of a $2.3 billion restructuring plan unveiled by new Chief Executive Pascal Soriot in March, which also includes a 10 percent cut in overall staff numbers by 2016.

Soriot is trying to turn around the group's fortunes after a series of drug development disappointments by investing more in research and bolt-on acquisitions, while reining in costs.

AstraZeneca said at the time that it planned to establish a new global research and development center and corporate headquarters in the city by 2016, at cost of around 330 million pounds ($500 million), but did not disclose the exact location.

The group currently has its corporate headquarters in London, while its main research center is in Alderley Park, northwest England, where research will be shut down.

A smooth move to the new purpose-built Cambridge center is a key test for Soriot as he tries to change the culture at Britain's second-largest pharmaceuticals group to put science at the center of its activities.

"Moving to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus means our people will be able to rub shoulders with some of the world's best scientists and clinicians carrying out some of the world's leading research - that's a really exciting prospect," Soriot said.

LONG-TERM BET

In addition to Addenbrooke's Hospital, the CBC is also home to the Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

AstraZeneca will occupy approximately 11 acres of the 70 acre campus, which is situated two miles from central Cambridge and its university colleges.

The decision to select CBC is a blow for Granta Park, the other main location option, which is outside Cambridge and already houses AstraZeneca's biotech unit MedImmune.

Science Minister David Willetts said AstraZeneca's move was excellent news and a vote of confidence in British science and the position of Cambridge as a center of academic excellence. It also underscores the growing economic importance of Cambridge, which is home to more than 1,500 high-tech firms.

Still, AstraZeneca management will have to work hard to ensure it retains its best scientists during the transition. Menelas Pangalos, the group's head of innovative medicines, said last month the drugmaker would offer enticing packages to make sure key staff relocated.

Whether the Cambridge's scientific "stardust" will rub off on AstraZeneca remains to be seen. The relocation process will take three years and the fruits of any new research will be even further down the road, making the shift a long-term bet.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

FILED UNDER:

Ebola Watch

Feature: Africa's medicine men key to halting Ebola spread in Guinea

Feature: Africa's medicine men key to halting Ebola spread in Guinea

In a land where witchcraft is sought after more than science for curing illness, medicine men in Guinea say the Ebola epidemic would be over by now if they had been properly included in the outbreak response.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

India Cricket Chief

India Cricket Chief

Former ICC boss Dalmiya returns as BCCI chief.  Full Article 

S&P on Budget

S&P on Budget

Budget shows commitment to keep fiscal deficit low - S&P.  Full Article 

New Phone

New Phone

Samsung unveils sleek new Galaxy phones to battle Apple.  Full Article 

MH370 Search

MH370 Search

Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon.  Full Article 

Blogger's Murder

Blogger's Murder

Bangladesh says arrests main suspect in U.S. blogger Avijit Roy's killing.  Full Article 

England under Fire

England under Fire

Changes demanded after England's latest World Cup flop.  Full Article 

Anti-Putin Rally

Anti-Putin Rally

Anti-Putin protesters rally in New York after Nemtsov's murder.  Full Article 

Brit Awards

Brit Awards

Brit awards shake up British album chart, boost Sam Smith.  Full Article 

Lathmar Holi

In Pics: Lathmar Holi

Images of "Lathmar Holi" at Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage