Japanese owned Heptares Therapeutics is relocating to the Cambridge life science cluster from its current base in Welwyn.
Owned by Sosei Corporation, Heptares is creating a state-of-the-art R & D facility at Granta Park to support an international growth strategy. It will be extensively remodelling the facility being vacated by US company Gilead Sciences Inc which is expanding into a new £28 million research hub at Granta.
The 35,000 sq ft building Heptares is taking will house the company’s entire UK R & D team, with growth of its Zurich operation continuing uninterrupted. Heptares plans to move to the new facility in the second half of 2018, by which time it expects to employ over 130 highly skilled staff drawn from around the world, focused on discovery and clinical development of novel small molecules and biologics derived from its unique GPCR-focused structure-based drug design platform.
The relocation follows Heptares’ rapid expansion in recent years and is intended to support the company’s plans for progressing to market its own products derived from its G protein-coupled receptor drug discovery and development activities, as well as to continue advancing its broad pipeline of projects partnered with leading pharmaceutical companies.
Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares and chief R & D officer of Sosei Group said: “In relocating to Granta Park, Heptares is building a world-leading centre for the design and development of novel medicines targeting GPCRs – the most important family of drug targets in the pharmaceutical industry and the source of more than 40 per cent of approved drugs.
“We have built an exceptional and truly international team in the UK, which has been crucial for our success to date. We anticipate that with enhanced links to the first-class research environment of Cambridge, whilst still maintaining links to the equivalent biomedical centres of excellence in London and Oxford, we can reinforce our world-leading position.”
Peter Bains, CEO of Sosei, added: “We are delighted with the very strong progress Heptares has made since it was acquired by Sosei in 2015. At that time, we stated our commitment to establishing Heptares as our core drug discovery and development engine to fuel our organic growth and partnering strategies.
“We are proud to fulfil this commitment through continued investment in Heptares and in this exciting move to state-of-the art facilities in Cambridge.”
Heptares’ new facility will be named The Steinmetz Building as a tribute to Michael Steinmetz, who died in 2016. Through US venture capital firm Clarus Ventures, Michael was a crucial early investor in Heptares and made a significant contribution to the development and success of the company in his role as a board director between 2007 and 2015.
Heptares now has partnerships for its novel candidates and technologies with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Allergan, AstraZeneca, Daiichi Sankyo, Kymab, MedImmune, MorphoSys, Pfizer and Teva.
Its relocation to Granta Park from the BioPark in Welwyn also caps a brilliant couple of years for BioMed Realty, Granta’s US owner and developer, following multimillion investment in flagship facilities announced by Illumina and Gilead. Illumina is investing up to £60m in a facility capable of housing 500 staff.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Heptares CEO, Malcolm Weir