AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Alderley Park site has found three new biotech tenants as the drug giant advances plans to move more than 1,500 R&D jobs south from the Cheshire location to Cambridge over the next three years. It's the start of what locals hope will be a continued migration of smaller companies to the Alderley campus to fill the void of AZ's massive exit from the area.
For its part, AstraZeneca set up a BioHub facility to house the biotech shops. Liverpool-based Redx Pharma aims to bring 120 biotech jobs to the Cheshire site with 28 more employees in the offing to staff a new R&D group focused on therapies against infectious diseases such as MRSA, hepatitis C, influenza and HIV, the Manchester Evening News reported. Also, Blueberry Therapeutics, which discovers peptide-based drugs, plans to move into new labs at the BioHub facility. And Imagen Biotech, a U.K.-based high content analysis oufit, has signed on to inhabit the labs.
AstraZeneca broke the bad news in March that the company would abandon research at Alderley Park over the next three years as part of new CEO Pascal Soriot's restructuring plan. The plan calls for 1,600 research jobs to move to a new R&D headquarters planned in Cambridge, UK, with 700 non-research staffers to stay at Alderley and leaving 550 or so jobs on the chopping block. The plans have spurred politicians, AZ officials and others into action to find new tenants for the campus.
"I said back in March, when AstraZeneca announced their restructuring, that we needed to accelerate our plans for a new Bio Science Park and Incubator, as part of a drive to foster growth of the Life Science sector in the region," said Cheshire East Councilor Michael Jones, as quoted by the Manchester newspaper."This is the start of this process."
The UK government has taken steps to revive the pharma research sector in the wake of previous or announced cutbacks from London-based AstraZeneca and the U.S. drug giant Pfizer ($PFE). Last year Redx, one of the new BioHub tenants, won a £4.7 million grant from the government's Regional Growth Fund to help finance the research effort in anti-viral and anti-bacterial therapies.
Correction: This article misidentified Imagen Biotech, based in the U.K. as the company of the same name headquartered in the U.S. We regret the error, which has been corrected in this update.