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AZ donates Brixham lab to Plymouth University

Will create global research and education facility

AstraZeneca AZ Brixham Lab DevonAstraZeneca (AZ) has negotiated a deal that will keep its environmental laboratory in Brixham, UK, in operation, although it will not rescue the jobs of those currently working there.

The pharma company will donate the Brixham facility and all its equipment to Plymouth University, which will use the site to create a "global research and education facility" focusing on marine and environmental research.

AZ took the decision to close down the unit in south Devon in October and contract out all the work currently carried out there, resulting in the loss of 71 jobs. The Brixham facility provided specialist services to assess the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals and chemicals, working both for other AZ divisions as well as other companies.

In addition to serving as a working lab Plymouth University expects to use the facility for technology transfer activities, tapping into Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) set up by the University, Plymouth City Council and Tamar Science Park.

"Our aim has been to ensure the laboratory and its state of the art facilities remain in use for scientific purposes," commented Steve Rumford, head of the environment team at AZ, although the company confirmed that the agreement does not include the transfer of AZ staff or third-party work commitments.

"Plymouth University is a world-class teaching and research institution and we are confident that we have chosen the right partner to secure a successful future for the site," he added.

Local MP Dr Sarah Wollaston welcomed the decision but said she was still "saddened" by AZ's decision to pull out of the area.

"I would like to thank them for understanding the importance of science to this area; a responsible exit will allow the creation of highly skilled jobs and an international centre of excellence," she added.

AZ staff have faced a dramatic 12 months as the company announced plans to reduce its headcount by around 4,000, downsize its UK research operations and leave its Alderley Park facility in Cheshire for a new site in Cambridge.

The company said its priority is to ensure its employees are fully supported over the coming weeks and months, as it progresses its "responsible exit plans."

Article by
Phil Taylor

10th December 2013

From: Research

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