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Thursday 13 March 2014

Cheshire East in investment to secure hi-tech jobs and future economic growth


Cheshire East Council is set to invest in the Alderley Park bio-science hub to help secure both hi-tech jobs and the site's position as a world-class economic powerhouse.

The site is to be sold by AstraZeneca to Manchester Science Parks (MSP). Cheshire East Council is proposing to buy a 10 per cent stake in the project and place a three per cent investment in MSP.

It follows the announcement, last March, that AstraZeneca was to cease its R&D work at Alderley Park. Through negotiations with the Government and the Leader of Cheshire East Council, AstraZeneca agreed to retain 700 jobs on the site but removed 2,300 R&D staff, with 1,100 of these R&D roles moved to a new site in Cambridge. It later emerged the site would be sold.

Leader of Cheshire East Council Councillor Michael Jones said today: “This is a vindication of a year of co-ordinated, cross-boundary, Task Force-led, MP-supported innovative action with AstraZeneca to save Alderley Park and jobs.

“Last March, AstraZeneca announced it was moving its UK-based R&D and world HQ to a new site in Cambridge and removing some 2,300 jobs from its nearly 3,000-strong workforce from Alderley Park, with 700 staying at the site.

“Since then the Council and the AstraZeneca bio-hub team, working with local partners have developed the hub to entice 20 companies into the site, bringing about 500 jobs on board – and a further 1,000 jobs in the pipeline.

“What is unique about this opportunity is that it’s not only a centre with vast facilities but also a centre with significant hi-tech equipment in place, unique infrastructure and a ready supply of highly-skilled workers.

“This is a national centre, if not a European centre, for bio-sciences and I am delighted that the new owners are fully engaged with the vision for the bio-hub and Alderley Park.

“By investing alongside key public sector partners, such as Manchester City Council and the Manchester universities, Cheshire East is sending out a clear message to the Government that it fully supports Alderley Park and puts working innovatively and collaboratively at the heart of its economic policies to deliver increasing prosperity for all the people of Cheshire East – and value for money for our local taxpayers.”

Councillor Jones added: “This is exactly the sort of thing that enterprising local authorities should be doing. Alderley Park was a global centre for cancer research and bio-sciences and is of paramount importance to the local and regional economy – contributing some £315m a year to the economy of Cheshire East, supporting directly more than 3,000 highly-skilled jobs at its peak and contributing about £4m in business rates alone.

“The significance of Alderley Park to both the local and regional economy cannot be overstated and, as a Council, we are committed and determined to work with our partners to help secure its future in order that it continues to be a world-class centre for bio-science business and jobs.

“This announcement by Cheshire East Council today shows our long-term commitment to the site and to acting innovatively to securing jobs-led growth.

“Under my leadership, Cheshire East Council has been working hard, in partnership with others, to help build a strong future for Alderley Park as a world-class bio-science hub.

“It is really gratifying to see another big step forward for Alderley Park towards achieving this – and all this less than a year since the creation of the Task Force, led by the government and including Cheshire East, to secure the site's future.

“We now look forward to working with MSP to ensure the Alderley Park bio-science hub becomes a powerhouse that leads the way, not just in Britain but globally – and delivers future-proof jobs, growth and innovative technologies for the North West and UK plc.”

The Task Force, which includes Cheshire East Council, is currently working closely with Government to identify public sector investment opportunities and has recently supported a Regional Growth Fund bid to secure funding.

By investing its own resources in Alderley Park, Cheshire East Council is sending a clear message to Government that it fully supports Alderley Park and this could secure additional public sector funding in the medium and longer term.

A clear vision for the site has been developed to secure its vibrant and prosperous future through its transformation to an independent, self-sustaining world-class hub for life sciences – acting as an anchor for the sector in the North West region.

Councillor Jones added: “The turning round of the disaster that could have been at Alderley Park has been further supplemented by AstraZeneca’s investment in its Hurdsfield site. This further exemplifies why Alderley Park is unique in having not only its own facilities but also being in a hi-tech corridor – from Waters’ world leading mass spectrometer site in Wilmslow, to AstraZeneca’s manufacturing operation in Hurdsfield – which is home to some of the worlds leading science businesses.

“We have worked hard to achieve this result and this is just the beginning of a very exciting future, which the new owners are suggesting could lead to the creation of up to 5,000 jobs – and I support this.

“I am pleased to work with my colleagues in Manchester City Council, very excited to be working with the Manchester universities and like being cross-regional in approach. It shows London that the North West is getting its act together.” 

Twenty companies are currently located at the Alderley Park Bio-Hub with a growing number of companies showing interest.

The bio-hub has already filled its allotted (by AstraZeneca) space at Alderley Park and AstraZeneca has agreed to release an additional 50,000sq ft of space to meet demand.

The sale of the site is due to be concluded by March 31, with both parties currently finalising legal and financial arrangements.

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