AstraZeneca outlines major restructuring of R&D and strategy to return to growth

04 April 2013

AstraZeneca has announced plans for to establish a new global R&D centre and corporate headquarters in Cambridge in the UK by 2016. The move is part of the company’s proposals to create strategic global R&D centres in the UK, US and Sweden to improve pipeline productivity and to establish AstraZeneca as a global leader in biopharmaceutical innovation.

Under the proposed plans, AstraZeneca’s small molecule and biologics research and development activities will be concentrated in three strategic centres by 2016: Cambridge, UK; Gaithersburg, Maryland, US; and Mölndal near Gothenburg, Sweden.

The company says the planned investment of around £330 million ($500 million) to establish a purpose-built site in Cambridge reinforces its long-term commitment to the UK and underscores the country’s global importance as a location for biopharmaceutical research and development.

The proposals are designed to:

  • Locate more of the company’s scientists close to globally recognised bioscience clusters, making it easier to access world-class talent and opportunities for collaboration and partnerships;
  • Bring teams together to improve collaboration and to create a more vibrant environment that puts science and the patient at the heart of everything the company does;
  • Simplify the company’s footprint to reduce complexity and eliminate unnecessary cost.

Focusing the company’s UK-based R&D activities at a new centre in Cambridge builds on AstraZeneca’s world-leading protein engineering capabilities already based in the city through MedImmune, the company’s biologics arm. Cambridge offers easy access to scientific talent and excellent collaboration opportunities through renowned academic research institutions, pre-eminent hospitals and leading-edge biotech companies. The city also has strong links with important research institutions in London. By 2016, the new site is expected to house a highly-skilled workforce of approximately 2,000.

The new centre will mean about 1,600 R&D job losses at the company's Alderley Park site in Cheshire, UK, with some of these relocating to Cambridge, the nearby Macclesfield facility or sites overseas.

Gaithersburg, Maryland, US, the site of MedImmune’s headquarters will be the primary location for AstraZeneca’s biologics activities, Gaithersburg will also become home to much of the company’s US-based Global Medicines Development activities for small and large molecules and will accommodate some global marketing and US specialty care commercial functions.

AstraZeneca’s site in Mölndal, near Gothenburg, Sweden, will continue to be a global centre for research and development, with a primary focus on small molecules.

The three strategic sites will be supported by other existing AstraZeneca facilities around the world, including Boston, Massachusetts, US which will continue to be a centre for research and development, with a primary focus on small molecules.

AstraZeneca's has outlined its strategy to return to growth and achieve scientific leadership. Its strategic priorities are:

  • Driving on-market growth platforms to return to growth as it move through a period of patent expiries and revenue declines;
  • Progressing the Phase II pipeline, that has the potential to double Phase III asset volume by 2016, and deliver on the promise of our biologics portfolio;
  • Launching a steady flow of specialty care products, balancing the company’s historic strength in primary care;
  • Rebuilding the R&D engine through innovation and distinctive science supported by co-location of teams and better access to globally recognised science clusters;
  • Dramatically simplifying the business, improving productivity and building a culture that supports long-term success;
    Leveraging business development and acquisitions to deliver upside to the company’s base plan and to strengthen the pipeline further.

Research and development efforts will be more focused. In large and small molecule R&D, the company will concentrate our scientific efforts and the weight of investment, including business development, on three core therapy areas:

  • respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity;
  • cardiovascular and metabolic disease;
  • oncology.

The company will continue to be active in infection and vaccines and in neuroscience, though investments will be more opportunity-driven.

Within chosen therapy areas, the company will tighten its disease focus. This approach is designed to improve the likelihood of success while allowing it to meet its goal of funding our growing portfolio of late stage assets on a broadly flat R&D spend to 2016.

Chief Executive Officer, Pascal Soriot said: “AstraZeneca is committed to delivering great medicines to patients through innovative science and excellence in development and commercialisation. Our vision is clear – to be a global biopharmaceutical company with a focused portfolio in core therapy areas, underpinned by distinctive science and a growing late-stage pipeline, with sound financials offering attractive returns for investors. We see no case for diversification.

“In setting out our strategy today, we are making an unambiguous commitment to concentrate our efforts and resources on our priority growth platforms and our priority pipeline projects. As we focus, accelerate and transform our business we know that our success will ultimately be measured by the quality of execution. I’m confident that we have set out on the right path to return to growth and achieve scientific leadership, and I’m equally confident that our people possess the talent, determination and focus to deliver for patients as well as our shareholders.”


To top