And a thank you message to our 200,000 Twitter followers

As we were preparing to send this issue of Chemistry World to the printers, the news came in that AstraZeneca (AZ) is to invest £330 million in a new strategic R&D centre and global headquarters in Cambridge, UK.

This move comes as part of broader plans to invest in strategic R&D centres as the company strives to boost pipeline productivity and establish itself as a key player in biopharmaceutical innovation. According to the press release, AZ’s small molecule and biologics R&D activities will now be concentrated in three strategic centres in Cambridge, UK, Gaithersburg, US, and Mölndal, Sweden.

There is a positive angle to this story – it is a real vote of confidence for the UK life sciences sector and for the Cambridge cluster in particular. Indeed, the city is already a world-renowned centre for life sciences innovation with strong links to globally important research institutions in London and Oxford. This type of investment and commitment from one of pharma’s giants will no doubt make it an even stronger contender in the global life sciences arena. 

Unfortunately, there is also a negative angle to this story. The proposed investment and associated changes will lead to the relocation of nearly 2500 roles and an estimated reduction in headcount in the region of 1600 roles, the vast majority of these being in the UK and the US. In the UK, R&D activity will no longer be carried out at the Alderley Park site in Cheshire. Although AZ says it remains committed to keeping the site open, this is devastating news for the north-west of England and a huge blow to the local economy.

The RSC is to offer careers advice and guidance to members likely to be affected.

[Since the time this article went to press there have been further updates relating to AZ’s activities]


Tweet Tweet

When we started using social media four years ago we didn’t know it was going to become the powerful tool that it has. It was a bit of an experiment at first, the ‘rules of the game’ had not yet been defined and what benefit Chemistry World  would draw from it was unclear. But we made the decision to invest time and resources, and we are delighted that we did because, as I write, we have just exceeded 200,000 followers on Twitter. 

Twitter not only helps us improve the visibility of our content but it also provides us with a quick and easy way of sourcing ideas, receiving feedback and keeping our finger on the pulse of whatever is happening within the chemical sciences community. Twitter brings a lot of readers to our web site, but it also increases the level of engagement we have with our audience. Over the years this has increased considerably, with an ever greater number of retweets, questions and comments, and even tweets in other languages (in fact, our content is now regularly tweeted in Spanish, Japanese and French to name just a few!)

We don’t know whether it’ll be here in five years’ time and, if so, under what guise. But it is clear that Twitter has become a very powerful tool to help people find and engage with publications like ours, to promote the dissemination of scientific information, to facilitate networking and collaboration, and ultimately, to advance the chemical sciences.

Thanks to all the Twitterati out there for your support.