AstraZeneca donates Brixham Environmental Laboratory to Plymouth University

Monday, 9 December 2013

AstraZeneca today announced that it plans to donate its Environmental Laboratory in Brixham 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 Torbay 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).

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.”

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.”

Dr. Sarah Wollaston, M.P. 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.


About the Brixham Environmental Laboratory

The Brixham Environmental Laboratory provides environmental support to the pharmaceutical and other industries, including testing and risk assessments to understand the impacts of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), manufacturing intermediates, processes and effluents on the environment to ensure processes meet regulatory approval.

About Plymouth University

Consistently ranked as one of the leading universities in the UK, and awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2012 for its work in marine and maritime education and research, Plymouth has a strong record of excellence, enterprise and innovation across its teaching and research activities.

Distinguished by its long-term engagement with business and the community, the University enjoys outstanding links with employers and plays a key role in civic and regional leadership. It is the only university in the world to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of its work in support of the sector.

With around 30,000 students, including those studying higher education at its partner colleges throughout the South West, the University is one of largest in the UK. It enjoys a high rate of graduate employment and has recently invested more than £150 million in its estate and facilities to enhance the student experience and support world-class research.

Plymouth has embedded sustainability across its operations, and is the overall best performing university in the People & Planet Green League. It is the first modern university to found a medical and dental school – the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry – and is the leading provider of Higher Education in Cornwall.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:


AstraZeneca Media Enquiries    
Esra Erkal-Paler (UK/Global) +44 20 7604 8030
Vanessa Rhodes
(UK/Global) +44 20 7604 8037
Ayesha Bharmal
(UK/Global) +44 20 7604 8030


Plymouth University Media Enquiries
Karen Mason Acting Head of Communications +44 1752 588002