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Biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has awarded a contract worth about SEK3.7bn ($444m) to Skanska for construction management of the company’s research and development (R&D) centre and corporate headquarters.

Skanska has commenced work on the project, which is slated for completion in 2017 and the client will begin occupying the site at the end of 2016.

In February, AstraZeneca secured permission from Cambridge City Council for construction its new, global R&D centre and corporate headquarters.

To be built on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the purpose-built facility is expected to accommodate around 2,000 employees.

The Cambridge site is claimed to become the company’s largest centre for oncology research, as well as housing scientists and a joint research centre.

"Our aim is to create an open, welcoming and vibrant centre that will inspire our teams and partners to push the boundaries of scientific innovation."

AstraZeneca’s R&D building will include functions to support the company’s scientific work such as regulatory affairs and commercial units.

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AstraZeneca innovative medicines and early development executive vice-president Mene Pangalos said: "Work is underway to prepare the site on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and we look forward to beginning construction in the spring.

"Our aim is to create an open, welcoming and vibrant centre that will inspire our teams and partners to push the boundaries of scientific innovation for the benefit of patients."

AstraZeneca initially revealed the proposed plans for the global R&D centre and headquarters in July 2014, which was designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

Image: Concept design of AstraZeneca’s R&D centre and corporate headquarters. Photo: courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron.