AstraZeneca opens research center as UK builds science hub

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles praised Cambridge as a center of scientific collaboration Tuesday as the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca opened a 1 billion-pound ($1.34 billion) research center, hoping to build on work in developing one of the first COVID-19 vaccines.

The 19,000 square-meter (more than 200,000 square-foot) complex near the University of Cambridge will house more than 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 7 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 U.K., European Union and other countries. The company and its licensing partners have delivered more than 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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the vaccine.

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