Prince Charles will be on hand Tuesday when pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca opens a 1 billion-pound ($1.34 billion) research center near the University of Cambridge, 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 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.
“Our ambition today is to not only unveil a building, but to also drive the next wave of scientific innovation,” CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement.
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 vaccine is widely used in developing nations because AstraZeneca has pledged to keep costs down by selling it to low- and middle-income countries on a non-profit basis.
AstraZeneca also plans to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the vaccine.