Heads of terms agreed for Brixham laboratory

World-leading environmental research and safety studies company Smithers Viscient is pursuing the opportunity to become anchor tenant at Plymouth University’s Blue Environmental Hub.

Smithers Viscient – which currently operates from sites in the United States, Japan and Yorkshire – has agreed “heads of terms” which could see it take up 29,000 square feet in the laboratory in Brixham, South Devon.

The site was passed to Plymouth University in May 2014, having formerly been home to pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca’s Brixham Environmental Laboratory.

The agreement will allow Smithers Viscient to begin contacting prospective clients and potential staff for the facility.

David Phillips, Managing Director of Smithers Viscient, said:

“The potential for Smithers Viscient to provide services from the Brixham site is exciting. The facility, the equipment and our ability to attract experienced environmental scientists from the local area is a powerful combination. We believe many of our clients have testing needs that would be well served with Smithers operating from Brixham. Right now we are working to verify those assumptions by talking to both clients and prospective clients.”

Smithers plan is based on occupying one of two main research areas at the site, built by AstraZeneca in 2008 and containing state-of-the-art laboratory space, offices and fish husbandry facilities.

The balance of the Brixham laboratory will be home to a multidisciplinary community of Plymouth University researchers, commercial tenants and visiting scientists from higher education and commerce.

Plymouth University, Torbay Development Agency and South Devon College have been working closely together to identify how the site can regain the high value jobs that were lost when AstraZeneca decided to leave the region, and the ways it can become a contributor to the area’s economy.

The University’s work to promote marine enterprise and aquaculture has been led by Professor Julian Beer, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regional Enterprise.

Professor David Coslett, Interim Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at Plymouth University, said:

“Our agreement with Smithers Viscient marks the first stage of our plans to reinvigorate the Brixham site, and to create a hub of expertise that has influence and impact locally and globally. The laboratories are a world-class facility, which complement our efforts to expand Plymouth University’s reputation as an international leader in marine and maritime research. They also enable us to further our work as an anchor institution in the South West – as exemplified by the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) – creating highly-skilled jobs that will underpin sustainable growth.”