Skip to NavigationSkip to content

Novartis ponders Horsham site future

Published on 14/04/14 at 09:00am
Horsham image
Novartis' Horsham site

Novartis has hired specialist consultancy firm PharmaVentures to help it decide how to re-use it former Horsham site.

This comes after Novartis announced in February that it will cease all of its pharmaceutical operations at its Horsham, West Sussex site by June of this year.

The Swiss firm said in November it was ‘consulting’ on the closure of the facility, but later confirmed it would close all R&D and manufacturing operations down in the area by the summer, putting around 400 jobs at risk.

This decision followed a global review of research locations, and mimics similar actions by a number of big pharma firms around the world.

Novartis says in a statement this week that despite its exit plans, it remains “committed to exploring options for the future of the site”.

It goes on: “These options could include reusing part of the site for a science or business park, and creating a legacy with the possibility of some highly skilled jobs for the area in the future.

“We have appointed PharmaVentures to assist us in providing expert advice on the feasibility of doing this, and to help identify potential partners.”

In the meantime Novartis will sell the north part of the site - mainly used as the current car park - to the developer Linden Homes, which is set to be completed by September.

Dr Fintan Walton, chief executive of PharmaVentures, adds: “The Novartis Horsham site is a perfect location for a high technology park. Novartis has built state of the art facilities, suitable for pharmaceutical/life science or other high technology businesses. With such high quality facilities, we expect interest from both universities and research institutes.

“The site would also be ideal as a business park as Horsham is an attractive location due to its strong international links through Gatwick airport and its proximity to London.”

The location had been the company’s worldwide headquarters for respiratory and gastro-intestinal research, but has fallen out of favour with the firm and comes as the company looks to shake up its global strategy and restructure its manufacturing and R&D presence.

Life sciences in the UK

Should a science park be established, Novartis would be following a similar path taken by Pfizer UK at its former R&D site in nearby Sandwich, Kent.

It announced in 2011 that it would be shutting this unit down but later sold the site to a private consortium, and is now designated as a ‘Discovery Park’.

This has been a sensitive subject for the UK government which has now seen three major firms pull operations from the UK, with AstraZeneca also announcing just last month that it had sold its former R&D site in Cheshire to a Manchester Science Parks for an undisclosed sum.

Things had looked worse a year ago when AstraZeneca dropped the bombshell that it was closing R&D operations there - with the loss of 600 jobs - as part of a global restructure which will see it move into a new £330 million HQ in Cambridge by 2016.

The selling of the site to another public-private science-based consortium relieved some political pressure, however, especially as it falls within the remit of its local MP George Osborne, Cabinet minister and chancellor of the exchequer.

But there was some positive development news this month when London mayor Boris Johnson formally launched MedCity, a new project linking Cambridge, Oxford and the capital, in a ‘golden triangle’ of research.

Johnson hopes this will nurture further life sciences growth in the UK and help re-build the UK’s reputation in pharmaceutical science.

Ben Adams 

Mission Statement is a leading portal for the pharmaceutical industry, providing industry professionals with pharma news, pharma events, pharma service company listings and pharma jobs,
Site content is produced by our editorial team exclusively for and our industry newspaper Pharmafocus. Service company profiles and listings are taken from our pharmaceutical industry directory, Pharmafile, and presented in a unique Find and Compare format to ensure the most relevant matches