AstraZeneca says research relies on 'closeness to Europe'

A person holds a packet: Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is famous for co-developing a Covid-19 vaccine with the University of Oxford - Credit: Flickr/Gencat cat

The future of biomedical research south of Cambridge will rely on closeness to Europe, an AstraZeneca chief has said.

The Covid-19 vaccine developer has already invested into a Chesterford laboratory.

Andy Williams, Vice President of AstraZeneca's Cambridge Programme, told MPs and industry leaders that industry growth relies on cross-border collaboration.

A long signpost: Chesterford Research Park

AstraZeneca's Hodgkin Building is situated in Chesterford Research Park. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Mr Williams told the Innovation Corridor All-Party Parliamentary Group: "We want to become a part of the community, not a leech on the side of it."

He added: "We want to be able to collaborate and share things.

"If the Innovation Corridor wants to think about what it can do most to support that, it needs to think about how we continue to access diversity, enabling people to come and go from the country.

"The proximity to London is very important to people in Cambridge.

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"The closeness to Europe is important, as is the acceptance from people of all sorts of cultures and nationalities."

A man grins. He gestures to his left.

Andy Williams, AstraZeneca, spoke to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Innovation Corridor online - Credit: APPG Innovation Corridor

AstraZeneca hit the headlines this week after the European Commission took it to court.

EU leaders fear the company will not honour its contract to supply the bloc with 300m Covid-19 vaccines throughout 2021.

A lawyer for AstraZeneca told a Brussels court it will supply all 300m doses as soon as possible.

The pharmaceutical firm is one of several based in the Innovation Corridor, a scheme backed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group co-chaired by MPs Julie Marson (Hertford and Stortford) and Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge).

The group aims to support scientific research and economic growth along the M11.

Mr Williams said residents often feel ignored when new projects take place because of complex local government structures.

He added public transport must meet the needs of research workers.

He said: "The local authorities have been very welcoming, but as growth in the Cambridge area has continued, residents are seeing more of the dis-benefits."

Glenn Crocker, from multinational property firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said that more than one million square metres of land around Cambridge is needed by 2025 to support the demand for research.

He said development would spill southwards in the direction of Saffron Walden.