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Alderley Park 'will remain flagship bioscience location'

Manchester Science Parks takes over former AstraZeneca site
AstraZeneca_AZ_Alderley_Park

A long chapter in the UK's pharmaceutical history came to a close yesterday with the sale of AstraZeneca's 400-acre Alderley Park site in Cheshire.

The new owners of the site - Manchester Science Parks (MSP) - have pledged to maintain and expand Alderley Park as a leading UK incubator for life sciences businesses.

MSP will "build on Alderley Park's heritage of scientific innovation," said AZ in a statement. The company said last year that it planned to cut about 1,600 jobs as part of an overhaul of its R&D operations, with 600 jobs lost in Cheshire, and would also relocate its global corporate headquarters to Cambridge by 2016.

MSP is a public private partnership between Manchester's main academic centres and local councils and investment company Burntwood Ltd. It already operates a 221,000 sq ft campus within the city that saw occupancy nearly double in the last year, approaching capacity.

As a result, MSP has just announced plans to triple the size of the Manchester site in the next 10 years and adding in the Alderley Park campus will create "an internationally compelling commercial science offer and driver of future economic growth", according to MSP chief executive Rowena Burns.

Meanwhile, Alderley Park is already housing a small bioincubator called the BioHub - set up by Biocity - which has attracted 24 companies since its launch in 2013. Biocity also operates clusters in Nottingham and Glasgow.

In a recent interview with PMLiVE, Biocity chief executive Glenn Crocker said that the conversion of former Big Pharma sites to bioclusters can actually increase employment levels over time as they fill with smaller but fast-growing companies.

He pointed to the experience with Biocity's Nottingham cluster, which now employs around 35 per cent more workers than it did when it formerly housed R&D laboratories owned by Boots.

Alderley Park has been a centre for pharmaceutical research since the 1950s, when the land was first purchased by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). AZ will continue to employ around 700 workers at the site in non-R&D roles, along with nearly 3,000 staff at its manufacturing facilities in the local area.

The company has not revealed the sale price for the site, but will take a $275m charge in its first quarter results associated with the restructuring of its operations.

AZ chief executive Pascal Soriot said the sale to MSP "is the responsible and sustainable choice for the future of Alderley Park".

12th March 2014

From: Research

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