£12m investment

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University have formalised a collaboration to establish a new laboratory to accommodate a Centre of Excellence for sustainable chemistry, and to construct an innovative carbon neutral sustainable chemistry laboratory.

The GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry will be based on the University’s Jubilee Campus and its construction is being supported by a £12m grant from GSK.

The laboratory will be a Centre of Excellence for sustainable chemistry and will focus on research that is of particular relevance to the pharmaceutical industry and which complements established expertise at the University. It will also deliver advanced undergraduate teaching and outreach to the wider scientific community to embed sustainable chemistry principles in the next generation of scientists.

The Centre will serve as a global hub to catalyse new collaborations and will bring together leading UK academics, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers and GSK chemists, developing expertise in sustainable chemical synthesis. The focus on sustainability will be reflected in the building itself, which will incorporate the latest technologies to allow it to be carbon-neutral over its lifetime. The laboratory will be built from natural materials and energy required to run it will be met by renewable sources. Excess energy created by the building will provide enough carbon credits over 25 years to pay back the carbon used in its construction.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said: “The carbon neutral laboratory will help affirm the UK as a global hub for the future of the life-sciences industry. Our vision is that the science researched within the laboratory will be as iconic as the building itself. This is an opportunity to invest further in science in the UK, re-think how we approach the drug discovery process and play a role in contributing to environmental stewardship.”

Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, said: “This development will be transformational in several dimensions: the built form will break new ground in sustainable construction; the Centre of Excellence will shape the future of drug discovery; and innovation in training and development will accelerate the translation of discovery to application. This is all tremendously exciting and will underpin a unique partnership between GSK and The University of Nottingham.”

The announcement builds on GSK’s environmental strategy announced in 2011, with an objective that GSK’s operations will become carbon neutral by 2050. Adopting sustainable chemistries from the start of the drug discovery process will help to reduce the impact of both the discovery and subsequent manufacturing of drugs on the environment. GSK will also fund a research programme to gather information on aspects of the carbon neutral laboratory that could be transferred into the existing GSK estate to increase efficiency, reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The University is renowned for its scientific excellence, with a broad portfolio of chemistry-based degree courses. GSK has a number of existing relationships with the University including providing postgraduate chemistry studentships, delivering a medicinal chemistry module to third-year undergraduate chemists and offering opportunities for fourth-year MSci project students to participate in live GSK research programmes. The University continues to provide GSK with high quality chemists for industrial placements, graduate and postgraduate roles.

Christopher Moody, Sir Jesse Boot Professor of Chemistry at Nottingham, said: “The carbon neutral laboratory is an outstanding opportunity to put in place an innovative new research training framework and develop an ethos for sustainable synthesis that will be unique in the UK. We will investigate new methods to address problems in synthetic chemistry, whilst building a greater awareness of the environmental impact of choice of solvents, reagents and procedures.”

Construction will begin in Spring 2013 and it is expected to be completed during 2014. It will be one of the first laboratory buildings designed to Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) ‘Outstanding’ standard.

GSK’s donation is a key contribution to Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, a five-year drive to raise £150m, launched in October 2011.

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