AstraZeneca to invest £650m in UK, boosting ‘pandemic preparedness’

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© AstraZeneca
© AstraZeneca

Related tags Astrazeneca Pharmaceutical industry pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine

Despite previously calling the UK a ‘very unattractive’ place to do business, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot is injecting £650 million into the UK life sciences industry.

The company will invest £450 million into its site in Speke, Liverpool, to build out its vaccine manufacturing capabilities.

Another £200 million will help expand AstraZeneca’s presence at Europe’s largest life sciences cluster in Cambridge, employing 1,000 people.

Soriot said the investment will enhance the UK’s ‘pandemic preparedness’ and demonstrates the company’s​ ‘ongoing confidence’ in the country’s life sciences sector.

However, AstraZeneca’s cash boost is contingent upon a mutual agreement with the U.K. government and undisclosed ‘third parties’, as well as the successful completion of regulatory processes.

AstraZeneca’s Speke site currently develops vaccines for children, while its HQ in Cambridge primarily supports commercial and regular business operations.  

In addition, the company’s Speke facility is planning to work in partnership the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)’s at its Porton Down site in Salisbury, to develop and evaluate vaccines.

In his budget statement on Wednesday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hailed the UK as having ‘one of the most competitive business tax regimes of any major economy’.

“AstraZeneca’s investment plans are a vote of confidence in the attractiveness of UK as a Life Sciences superpower and strengthen our resilience for future health emergencies​,” he said.

“Our £108 billion life sciences sector provides over 300,000 high skilled jobs across the UK and is crucial for the country’s health, wealth and resilience.”

The news comes almost a year after Soriot attributed the UK’s ‘discouraging’ tax climate for AstraZeneca’s decision to build a $400 million manufacturing plant in Ireland.

“We’re very committed [to the UK], but we need to see also supporting policies for the whole industry,” he said at the time.

The company will also open a new manufacturing facility for one of its cancer medicines in Macclesfield later in 2024, following the announcement of a £380 million investment in 2021.

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