The full Sandwich?
Discovery Park takes over former Pfizer site
A private consortium called Discovery Park has bought the freehold of the former Pfizer R&D site in Sandwich, UK, whose closure was announced in February 2011 with the loss of 1,500 jobs. About 1,000 people now work at the site, compared with 2,400 in Pfizer’s time, and the consortium is now aiming to secure further inward investment. A second bidder dropped out late in the process.
According to Paul Barber, managing director of Discovery Park, which is described as “a multiple-use, high-tech facility with a core of R&D activity”, Pfizer itself has taken a lease of about 23,000 m2 of offices and laboratories. Mylan, Unilabs and Peakdale Molecular have also increased their employment levels and there are some 12 start-up companies are in development there.
Accelerator grants of up to €25,000 and business support are in place for new companies emerging from Pfizer. One that has already emerged is IntensiChem, a specialist in ‘flow chemistry and chemical process understanding for the fine chemical industry’, which was present as an exhibitor at Chemspec Europe in 2012 in Barcelona.
After Pfizer announced its exit, the British government set up a task force to mitigate the effects, headed by Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council. Carter said that securing the site’s future was a key objective and the purchase was a major step forward in that respect. Discovery Park also has Enterprise Zone status, giving discounts on business rate and fewer restrictions on planning.
Earlier this year, Kent County Council launched the government-funded ‘Expansion East Kent’ scheme, aiming to creating 5,000 new jobs by offering local firms €44 million in interest-free loans. It has also started a marketing campaign to promote investment into East Kent. Some €6.3 million of Regional Growth Fund money will also be invested to reduce train journey times to and from London and a €30 million package of flood defences to safeguard both Discovery Park and Sandwich.