One of the biggest projects that Pascal Soriot initiated, all the way back in 2013, after he first took over as AstraZeneca’s CEO is finally complete.
AstraZeneca is formally unveiling its $1.34 billion (£1 billion) R&D campus in Cambridge, UK, a shiny new facility spanning 19,000 square meters in the southern part of the city. On top of 2,200 research scientists, it will also host a suite of robotics, high-throughput screening and AI-driven technology.
“I think it’s a very bold statement that we’ve got the new building,” Susan Galbraith, EVP of oncology R&D, said in a video, “because it’s basically saying that R&D is the future of the company, and that we want to invest in having the best facilities possible for people to do innovative science. So that itself I think is a statement of intent for what we want the future of the company to be.”
From precision medicines to next-gen treatments such as nucleotide-based, gene-editing and cell therapies, the company has high hopes for the site, which it’s calling the Discovery Centre (DISC).
When AstraZeneca first announced plans to build the new global R&D hub and corporate headquarters, the goal was to be ready for move-in by 2016 on a budget of $500 million. Soriot’s vision was for the team to become an integral part of the local ecosystem in Cambridge, “a world-renowned bioscience hotspot that rivals the likes of San Francisco and Boston.”
AstraZeneca’s new R&D center in Cambridge, UK (Hufton + Crow)
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In the end, it was just like developing a new drug. Fraught with high costs, disappointing setbacks and the source of bitter criticism.
But the delays didn’t stop AstraZeneca from inking over 200 collaborations in the region, including 130-plus with the University of Cambridge, on top of more than 2,000 around the world, according to Andy Williams, VP of Cambridge program and strategy. And the open-floor design of the new building will hopefully deepen these ties while fostering more.
The grand opening on Tuesday features Prince Charles as the guest of honor.
Located within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, AstraZeneca is now neighbors with multiple research hospitals as well as Abcam, the research tool provider.