A bright new era dawns as future of science buildings is secured at Sanofi’s former manufacturing plant

The future of state-of-the-art scientific buildings at Sanofi’s former manufacturing plant in Dagenham, east London, has finally been secured following an agreement with regeneration specialists SOG Group to purchase the facilities for an undisclosed sum.

SOG Group, owner and operator of the award-winning The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn, Cheshire, has been lead consultant advising Sanofi on the overall regeneration programme at Dagenham

The deal has been commended by Mayor of London Boris Johnson who said: “When Sanofi left their great site in Dagenham in east London they wanted there to be legacy for life sciences, so I am absolutely thrilled that SOG have taken up the torch and at londoneast, as it is going to be called, they will be creating a new destination for investment in life sciences, in pharma, lengthening London’s lead as a world capital in these industries.”

The retention of 17 acres of highly specialised research & development and manufacturing buildings has been a focal part of pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s site regeneration programme, aimed at attracting new businesses and new jobs to the location which ceased production last year.

Now the bespoke research and manufacturing buildings, which would cost tens of millions of pounds to replicate in today’s market are being rebranded as londoneast-uk and will be transformed into a multi-occupancy business and technical park to serve London and the surrounding area. londoneast-uk will operate as a sister park to The Heath, regarded as one of the UK’s leading independently-owned technology parks.

Sanofi’s Dagenham Site Leader Jim Moretta said: “We are delighted to confirm the sale of these buildings to SOG Group which will ensure these superb facilities are retained and made available to support other science-related businesses.  The retention of these buildings has always been a critical element of our legacy aspirations to see an exciting new business environment created on this site after Sanofi left.”

John Lewis, Managing Director of SOG Group, said: “I’m delighted that SOG Group is taking over these superb facilities. Our vision is to make londoneast-uk every bit as successful as our operation at The Heath, which is acknowledged as one of the UK’s great regeneration stories.

“Since taking over The Heath site in 2000, SOG Group has totally transformed the location which is now home to 170 businesses employing around 2000 people.

“It is now vital that we work with the local council, the Greater London Authority and all the other key stakeholders to market londoneast-uk around the world, to attract inward investment from cutting-edge scientific businesses who can access fantastic facilities right in the heart of the greatest capital city in the world.”

George Freeman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences, has also praised the initiative.  He said: “One of the key parts of our Life Science strategy is to help the industry evolve from the 20th century model and sites to a 21st century model. In Dagenham what we are seeing is UK companies being helped to convert sites of yesterday into the sites of tomorrow.

“This is a brilliant example – Sanofi working with SOG – pioneering a new way of rapidly converting a site of 20th century big pharma research into an innovator, a catalyst, an incubator for the small companies of tomorrow. Little companies that couldn’t afford the world-class facilities on their own at this site will be able to access world-class facilities to do their research.  I pay tribute to the work that Sanofi have done with the SOG Group, and it’s part of a series of projects in the UK that I’m going to be highlighting as best practice in a project to look at how we can do the same in other sites when they come on stream.”

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, said: “It is absolutely vital what SOG Group are doing in londoneast. It’s about creating a hub for new technology; new jobs; state-of-the-art facilities to attract new businesses into the east London area but into the Dagenham area in particular.”

Mr Cruddas added: “What Sanofi have done in Dagenham is extraordinary. Unfortunately there was some very bad news about the closure of the plant but from day one – actually before the announcement – I came into the plant and talked to the company and they have been extraordinary in ensuring there is a decent legacy for the people of Dagenham, for business investment and new technology across east London in general and to make sure that they’ve upheld their responsibilities to the community; and it’s been above and beyond what I thought would happened.

“I have never come across a better example where a company such as Sanofi have taken on board their corporate social responsibility and their responsibility to the local community, their workers and the wider local authority and part of London in terms of ensuring there is a decent legacy for the people and the local area,” said Mr Cruddas.

Sanofi and SOG have also been working closely with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham on the regeneration programme.  Council Leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “SOG has been a shining example of how they work with local communities in getting the best out of them. We are really proud to have them as a partner in the londoneast project.

“As a partner in redeveloping this site we want to work with SOG Group and we will give incentives to national and international companies to come here and actually start producing world renowned medicines or sciences that will actually take the Borough brand out into the global market.”

Since the site closure announcement was made in 2009, Sanofi has embarked on an innovative scheme to sell the land and buildings strategically to purchasers to turn it into a multi-occupancy science, business, manufacturing and retail park.

Mr Moretta said: “There has been widespread recognition that Sanofi has taken a really innovative and imaginative approach to the closure of a major site to turn a story of job losses into one of job creation.  We have worked extremely hard to deliver a positive outcome but it would not have been possible without the support of our staff, local residents, Barking and Dagenham Council, our MP Jon Cruddas, SOG Group and many other stakeholders. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your fantastic support throughout this immensely difficult period.”

For nearly 80 years the site in Rainham Road South, Dagenham, had manufactured drugs for a wide range of illnesses. For the past 20 years it had been operating as a specialist oncology centre, producing cancer drugs used by over eight million patients around the world.

The scientific buildings are situated at the centre of the 108-acre Sanofi site. Sanofi has sold ten acres of land to Sainsbury’s for a supermarket development and an acre of land for a family pub and restaurant. There is planning permission for a hotel, medical centre, warehousing and manufacturing units.  Sanofi has donated over 50 acres of sports fields and the May & Baker Social Club, which adjoin the main manufacturing plant, to a local community charitable trust to ensure future generations of residents can benefit from the facilities. The company is currently in negotiations to complete the sale of the remaining pockets of land at the site.

About Sanofi

Sanofi, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, had been associated with Dagenham for nearly 80 years through its manufacturing centre where life-saving medicines, including oncology drugs for treatment of various cancers, were distributed to over 80 countries worldwide. Sanofi’s global headquarters are in Paris with UK headquarters in Guildford, Surrey.

About SOG Group

Site Operations Group (SOG) has earned an enviable reputation as a high-quality facilities management service provider for business and science parks, as well as providing a host of specialist consultancy services for a wide range of companies on a global scale. Launched in 2000 as SOG Limited, SOG transformed The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn from ICI’s corporate headquarters site in to a world class multi-occupancy business and technical park. More than 170 organisations are now resident at The Heath employing some 2000 people – more than in ICI’s heyday.

This phenomenal success story, which has attracted commendation by government ministers, senior politicians and industry experts, is a formula which is now being considered for additional nationwide sites needing regeneration or growth management through SOG’s ‘Fusion’ initiative. SOG also offers consultancy services, technical and scientific support in a wide variety of areas from health and safety services to more specialist scientific glass blowing and precision engineering. SOG Group also has a work place safety training division DEAL WITH IT ® designed to change the culture of workforces to improve safety and reduce accidents for businesses operating in UK, Europe and in the United States of America. For further information, telephone 01928 515988 or visit www.sog.ltd.uk