AstraZeneca opens research centre as UK builds science hub

LONDON (AP) – Prince Charles praised Cambridge as a centre of scientific collaboration on Tuesday as the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca opened a GBP1 billion (USD1.34 billion) research centre, hoping to build on work in developing one of the first COVID-19 vaccines.

The 19,000 square-metre complex near the University of Cambridge will house over 2,200 research scientists. It joins a cluster of businesses seeking to make Cambridge a hub for life sciences research similar to what California’s Silicon Valley is for the technology industry.

“Having myself studied at Cambridge… over 50 years ago now, one of the things which I have always found so special about this city is how it attracts the meeting of minds, sparks unique cross-disciplinary conversations and nurtures collaboration and ingenuity,’’ Charles said at the official opening.

The Cambridge life sciences cluster includes 631 companies that employ almost 21,000 people and generate annual revenue of GBP7 billion pounds, according to Cambridge Ahead, which promotes business development in the city.

AstraZeneca worked with Oxford University to develop one of the first COVID-19 vaccines approved by regulators in the United Kingdom (UK), European Union (EU) and other countries. The company and its licensing partners have delivered over 1.5 billion vaccine doses around the world after pledging to sell it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic.

AstraZeneca said last week that it planned to start to sell the vaccine at a “modest” profit, though it would continue to offer it to developing countries at cost.

AstraZeneca also plans to ask the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration to approve the vaccine.

Britain’s Prince Charles is shown Luke Jerram’s Covid vaccine sculpture during a visit to AstraZeneca to officially open the new global Research and Development facility at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. PHOTO: AP