Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca opened a 1-billion-pound ($1.34Bn) research center near the University of Cambridge on Tuesday, 23rd November. Situated within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the facility aims to combine the best of Britain’s cutting-edge technology and the nation’s brightest minds.
Officially called The Discovery Centre (DISC), the research center will contain more than 2,200 scientists focused on working towards the research and development (R&D) hub. The center will work on specialised remedies and treatments, precision medicine, and the development of next-generation therapeutics like gene-editing, cell, and nucleotide-based therapies.
The DISC is a part of the Cambridge Life Science unit, a cluster of more than 400 companies employing over 20,000 people. The building is equipped with 174 boreholes to provide natural geothermal energy, four “hybrid cooling towers”, and a ground source heat pump intended to supply energy to 2,500 homes. Along with a “saw-tooth” roof design, the research unit also minimises energy use by creating low-energy ventilation and maintaining high-level insulation. The company has pledged to bring down its carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and to be carbon negative by 2030.
In a statement, the CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot said that their objective is not merely to showcase a building, but also to fuel the next wave of scientific discovery. The company said that the facility will “promote a culture of open partnership and innovation.”
AstraZeneca has supplied more than two billion doses of its lifesaving Covid vaccine worldwide and has a presence in more than 40 countries. The conglomerate has invested more than £5.2billion in Research & Development alone. While strategic centres have already opened in the US and Sweden, the company aims to invest a high amount of money in the UK. Development facilities are spread across South Asia, and countries like China and Japan also have a tie-up with the company.
Currently, AstraZeneca boasts over 200 active collaborations with more than 2,500 across the world in the fields of biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. The unveiling took place in the presence of Prince Charles who met with Leif Johansson, the Chairman of AstraZeneca. Together with other senior members of the company, the Prince of Wales gave a walking tour of the facility.