Chris Oglesby Alderley Park event

Official handover for Alderley Park

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Bruntwood's Manchester Science Parks, the new owner of AstraZeneca's 400-acre research and development site at Alderley Park in Cheshire, has committed to continuing the Park's focus on bioscience and drugs development, at a launch event at the site on Friday.

MSP announced its intention to develop a community of bioscience SMEs on the site, making efficient use of the expensive facilities already installed and allowing a campus-like mentality and "sharing of risk" when it came to research and development.

As part of its commitment to supporting new businesses, MSP announced the launch Alderley Park Springboard Fund, with an initial goal to raise £40m to develop 50 start-ups on site by the end of 2016. AstraZeneca has pledged £5m, matched by £5m from MSP, with further investment expected to be announced by Cheshire East Council.

Former owners of the site, AstraZeneca, will continue to have a long-term presence at Alderley Park, with over 700 employees retained on site. However MSP is also in talks with the Government about using the Park has a base for some of its science investment initiatives, including the £200m Precision Medicine Catapult, backed by the Technology Strategy Board.

Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Bruntwood, said that MSP intended to retain Alderley Park's reputation for "world class bioscience in a world class setting". He said that the partnership "would not be lacking in commitment to make something very special".

A masterplan is expected to be announced in the next six months after Bruntwood has completed a consultation process. The plan is expected to include a mix of offices, leisure and residential development. Oglesby said: "We are developing the site here with a strategy of it being a world class bioscience centre, and everything else is following that."

Chancellor of the Exchequer and local MP for Tatton, George Osborne, was also in attendance at the event. He described the phone call he received in March 2013 announcing AstraZeneca's move as "not the best call I've ever had" but said that the speed of the sale of the site to new buyers showed a "huge vote of confidence in UK science and innovation". He said: "In the 13 years that I have been a local MP I have never seen as good a partnership as that between Manchester and Cheshire here." He also made a commitment on behalf of central government to support the ongoing work at Alderley Park.

MSP acquired Alderley Park in March, beating Telereal Trilium, Discovery Park, backed by Palmer Capital, and residential developer Huntsmere.

MSP is a partnership between property developer Bruntwood, Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. Cheshire East Council recently acquired a 10% stake in Alderley Park and placed a 3% investment in MSP.

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