Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced on Friday that it will open a major research center in Kendall Square, Cambridge, the heart of the region’s biotech industry. The British drugmaker will move around 1,500 staff into a building due to open in early 2026, with significant room for growth, the company said.
The 570,000 square foot facility, on the Kendall Center Blue Garage site at 290 Binney St., is part of a recently announced plan by developer Boston Properties to build two 16-story laboratory and office buildings with a floor of 38 residential tower, which will be the tallest building in Cambridge. AstraZeneca will occupy space in one of the 16-story buildings.
AstraZeneca will move employees to Kendall Square from its research center in Waltham and from the company’s subsidiary, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which is now headquartered in Boston’s Seaport District. These sites will be closed once the move is complete.
AstraZeneca acquired Alexion, which focuses on developing drugs for rare diseases, for $39 billion last year. Alexion, which will retain its name and some autonomy, will move its headquarters to the new Kendall Square site, but the subsidiary’s research center will remain in New Haven, Connecticut, where it is expansion.
The new research center will give AstraZeneca a presence between Biogen-owned buildings and place the pharmaceutical company one block from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as many other research facilities and biotech companies, including Moderna. . The company’s consolidation in Kendall Square comes at a time when lab space is scarce and many small biotech companies are struggling. Some businesses have been kicked out of Kendall and are looking — or have moved — to suburban Boston for cheaper space.
“We believe that this proximity to be at the center, to be in the hotbeds of innovation and discovery, will one day help us to innovate better and innovate faster,” said Alexion’s CEO. , Marc Dunoyer, who was AstraZeneca’s chief financial officer from 2013 to 2021.
AstraZeneca’s Waltham site is currently home to around 500 researchers primarily focused on cancer. “We want to expand AstraZeneca’s research facilities in Boston,” Dunoyer said. “There will be ample room for growth in this new facility.”
Alexion employs over 700 people at its Seaport headquarters. Dunoyer said the Kendall Square space will allow that number to grow. “It’s the opposite of job cuts,” he said. Alexion, he added, “will have broad autonomy over research, development, manufacturing, marketing.”
The Kendall Square center will accommodate approximately 3,000 people, more than twice as many employees as the Seaport and Waltham sites combined. It will be one of AstraZeneca’s four research centers and will likely focus on oncology, Dunoyer said. Generally, the company’s research site in Cambridge, UK, also focuses on cancer, its site in Gaithersburg, Maryland, focuses on biologic drugs, and laboratories from Gothenburg, Sweden, work on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The move to Kendall Square will put AstraZeneca in the company of other big pharma companies with research sites in Cambridge, including Takeda, Novartis and Merck & Co. In February, Eli Lilly & Co. said it would create a new genetic medicine research. of 250 employees in the seaport.