Today we are delighted to confirm that AstraZeneca’s new, UK-based global R&D centre and corporate headquarters will be located at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) in the east of England. I wanted to take this opportunity to comment on this move, which comes on the heels of our announcement on 18 March where we confirmed our plans to invest in a new, purpose-built £330 million facility in Cambridge, as part of the company’s move to create strategic global R&D centres in the UK, US and Sweden.
Our Cambridge site will be home to both early and late-stage medicines discovery and development covering small molecules and biologics. It will be the company’s largest centre for cancer research and will host scientists working on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases, as well as conditions of the central nervous system. Our research activities will include capability across all our preclinical functional groups, including antibody engineering, medicinal chemistry and high throughput screening.
Cambridge Biomedical Campus plan showing location of the new AstraZeneca & MedImmune site along with other future developments
I feel strongly that this new site signals our intention to be fully integrated with the local scientific community, to open our doors to collaboration and innovation outside our labs and to accelerate scientific excellence in our areas of research interest.
When I talk about collaboration, I don’t just mean external – we’ll also have much better access within the company to our colleagues at MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s biologics arm. The relationship has always been a strong differentiator for our business, but in our new environment, with UK scientists working side-by-side; talking about their projects I am confident that we will uncover more opportunities to co-develop novel medicines and combinations that meet patient needs.
I’ve spent a lot of time in and around Cambridge recently. In fact, I’m here today with colleagues at MedImmune who are hosting a science fair for employees. This is a region that is renowned for scientific discovery and we’re excited to be part of it. 89 Nobel prizes have been awarded to scientists in the eastern region of England, 16 of which were associated with the CBC. The region also attracts 25% of all venture capital funding in the UK – a solid reflection of the creative thinking and innovation, that you really get a true sense of when you’re here.
With our increasingly ‘open’ approach to innovation, we’re also excited to be part of a biosciences hotspot, home to leading -edge scientific organisations. Our new neighbours, who will be just a short walk away from our site, include Addenbrooke’s hospital, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. What really excites me is the access we will have to them and vice versa – we can talk to each other, get excited about projects and most importantly, learn from one another. To me, this is what innovation is all about.
This is what Dr Robert Winter, Managing Director of the Eastern Academic Health Science Network had to say about the move:
“By locating this facility on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, AstraZeneca will be part of one of the largest biotech clusters outside the United States, linked to a population of 4.8 million across the Eastern Academic Health Science Network. This will present a unique environment for discovery and development of innovative approaches to delivering healthcare, changing the way the (UK) National Health Service interacts with the bioscience and biotechnology industries and improving patient outcomes.”
There’s still a great deal of work to be done and we’re only at the start of our journey to Cambridge, but by 2016 we will have AstraZeneca and MedImmune scientists working on projects at our new purpose-built site.