AstraZeneca has announced that it plans to donate its Environmental Laboratory in Brixham, South Devon, to Plymouth University. The donation of the facility and its equipment will ensure that the laboratory continues to serve scientific and research purposes, benefitting the region and beyond.

Plymouth University plans to use the site to create a global research and education facility. The University, which is known for its marine and environmental science expertise, also plans to offer commercial innovation opportunities through the facility via the region’s Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN).

Professor Wendy Purcell, Plymouth University Vice-Chancellor said: “We have undertaken a number of research projects with AstraZeneca over the years, and we’re very familiar with the specialist facilities available at the Brixham Environmental Laboratory. We are determined to leverage our academic credentials and enterprise mission to further develop the site into an international centre of excellence for marine and environmental research. Through this, we hope to support the creation of highly-skilled jobs that underpin sustainable growth in the region.”

Steve Rumford, Head of the Environment Team at AstraZeneca said: “We made the decision in October to close our Brixham site as operating an environmental research laboratory is not a core part of AstraZeneca’s strategy. However our aim has been to ensure the laboratory and its state of the art facilities remain in use for scientific purposes. Plymouth University is a world-class teaching and research institution and we are confident that we have chosen the right partner to secure a successful future for the site.”

Dr. Sarah Wollaston, MP. for Totnes said: “I am delighted to hear that AstraZeneca plans to donate its environmental laboratory to Plymouth University in order to ensure that Brixham retains such a valued scientific and research base. Whilst I am saddened to be losing AstraZeneca as it changes its focus to the development of new medicines I would like to thank them for understanding the importance of science to this area; a responsible exit will allow the creation of highly skilled jobs and an international centre of excellence.”

AstraZeneca announced its proposal to close the Brixham Environmental Laboratory in October as the work undertaken at the laboratory is outside the organisation’s strategic focus of developing innovative new medicines. Its priority remains to ensure its employees are fully supported over the coming weeks and months, as it progresses its responsible exit plans.

The agreement does not include the transfer of AstraZeneca staff or third party work commitments. Subject to agreement of final terms, AstraZeneca plans to transfer ownership of the laboratory to the University by the end of April 2014.