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AstraZeneca unveils £1bn research lab in Cambridge

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AstraZeneca opens new research lab in Cambridge. Photo: AstraZeneca
The state-of-the-art facility has been designed to the world’s highest environmental standards, AstraZeneca said. Photo: AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) on Tuesday opened a new £1bn ($1.3bn) research facility in Cambridge, UK.

The Discovery Centre (DISC) laboratories include the most advanced robotics, high-throughput screening and AI-driven technology and will accommodate over 2,200 research scientists.

The new facility will further AstraZeneca’s work on specialised and precision medicines and the development of next generation therapeutics, including nucleotide-based, gene-editing and cell therapies, the company said.

The DISC will be part of the Cambridge life sciences cluster — a hub of over 400 companies, employing around 20,000 people and contributing almost £3bn annually to the UK economy.

It is situated within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and is close to leading hospitals, the University of Cambridge, the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cancer Research UK and other research institutions and a number of biotech companies.

This will "promote a culture of open partnership and innovation", the company said.

"Building an ecosystem is the way forward if you want to develop life sciences in the UK," AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot told BBC Radio 4 Today, while likening the new facility to Stanford in California and hubs in Boston, San Francisco and San Diego.

Read more: AstraZeneca to start taking profit from COVID vaccine after $1bn quarterly sales

The company already boasts strategic research centres in Sweden and the US, and development facilities in China and Japan and has a research and development (R&D) presence in more than 40 countries across the globe.

AstraZeneca invests more than $7bn (£5.2bn) in R&D globally each year, a large part of which takes place in the UK, according to the company.

The state-of-the-art facility has been designed to the world’s highest environmental standards, AstraZeneca said. The building is equipped with 174 boreholes to provide natural geothermal energy, four "hybrid cooling towers" and a ground source heat pump that will save enough energy to power 2,500 homes.

The structure is also more energy efficient due to low-energy ventilation and high levels of insulation, along with a "saw-tooth" roof design which minimises energy use by allowing more natural daylight into the building.

This company has pledged to bring its carbon emissions across the world to zero by 2025, and intends for its entire value chain to be carbon negative by 2030.

AstraZeneca's share price was up 0.3% on Tuesday. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
AstraZeneca's share price was up 0.3% on Tuesday. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

AstraZeneca posted quarterly sales of more than $1bn for its COVID-19 vaccine earlier in November.

The pharmaceutical firm, which first produced the coronavirus jab with Oxford University at cost during the pandemic, and distributed it on a not-for-profit basis, said that it would now look to start turning a profit from it to help improve margins and offset costs from its antibody treatment.

It said it would “progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received” but its vaccine will remain not-for-profit for low-income nations.

AstraZeneca's share price was up 0.3% on Tuesday.

Watch: AstraZeneca's pledge to poorer nations as it seeks COVID jab profits from next year

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