AZ Giving Way to Early-Stage Biopharmas in Cheshire
AstraZeneca has selected the U.K.’s top provider of incubator services, BioCity Nottingham, to establish a new center for early-stage bioscience companies at Alderley Park in Cheshire on the site of an R&D facility being shuttered by the troubled pharma giant.
The new BioHub will initially consist of 36,000 square feet of high-end laboratory and office facilities envisioned for early-stage and growing firms engaged in drug discovery and development. The first three tenant companies were due to move on-site today—Blueberry Therapeutics, developer of nanopolymer delivery platforms for peptide-aptamer based drugs to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections, fungal nail infections, and atopic dermatitis; Imagen Biotech, a developer of a dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD) drug and other ophthalmology therapies; and Redx Anti-Infectives, a subsidiary of Redx Pharma.
Redx Pharma said in a statement that its site at Alderley Park would be an R&D facility employing 119 people, and housing a new team to develop drugs combating resistance to antibiotics and new medicines to tackle viral infections: “A particular focus will be hard-to-treat infections. These include the growing threat of drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA, as well as conditions such as influenza, hepatitis C, and HIV.”
Redx Infectives was established last month, supported by a grant of £4.7 million (about $7.3 million) from the U.K. government's Regional Growth Fund.
Neither Redx Pharma nor BioCity revealed how much space each tenant will occupy. In addition to providing laboratory and office space at BioHub, AZ is also providing tenants access to restaurants, meeting rooms, and conference facilities, as well as the opportunity to rent technical equipment and services.
“I am confident that with BioCity’s experience in this area we can continue to seek further opportunities to attract future investment and build on the existing world-class facilities available at Alderley Park,” Clive Morris, AZ’s vp, R&D, said in a statement.
BioHub is BioCity’s third site for fledgling biopharma businesses across the U.K.; the other two are BioCity Scotland, which opened last year, and BioCity Nottingham, which opened in 2003.
“I believe we now have a unique opportunity to build connections between tenant companies based at Alderley Park, Nottingham, and Scotland that could ultimately transform the way life science innovation is achieved,” Glenn Crocker, Ph.D., CEO of BioCity Nottingham.
At BioCity, the three tenants will occupy a portion of the campus AZ has begun vacating, with plans to shut down its R&D operations at Alderley Park by 2016. On March 18, AZ announced plans to close the R&D site at Cheshire as part of a global R&D restructuring in which the company eliminated 1,600 jobs, mainly in the U.K., and U.S. Under the restructuring, unveiled by CEO Pascal Soriot, AZ will consolidate small molecule and biologics R&D in three global centers—one each in the U.K., Sweden, and the U.S.
AZ has said it will transfer “the significant majority” of the 1,600 R&D jobs based in Cheshire to a new facility in Cambridge, U.K., with the remainder to be shifted to its nearby Macclesfield manufacturing facility or other AZ sites overseas.