Company in ‘advanced talks’ to open mini Silicon Valley in Dagenham

Ambitious plans to turn a factory site into a mini Silicon Valley featuring one of Europe’s biggest information centres have reached an advanced stage.

Global drug manufacturer Sanofi revealed they were in “advanced talks” with an international IT company to open a 33,000 square metre computer centre at its plant in Rainham Road South, Dagenham.

The two-storey centre would be the centrepiece of the multi-million pound information technology hub, with facilities including offices, workshops and call centres scattered over 25 acres.

Sanofi site director Jim Moretta said: “We are at a stage where we are drawing up contracts. There is a very big will on both sides to do a deal.

“I think it is a fantastic solution because it will create hundreds of jobs. This would make it the biggest real estate deal in Europe.”

Sanofi is closing its 450-staff pharmaceutical factory next year due to a fall in demand for its cancer drugs, but the firm is seeking to turn the 108-acre site into a vibrant science and technology business park called businesseast.

The company has already struck a deal with high-street chain Sainsbury to open a 400-staff supermarket and petrol station at the front of the factory, opposite Dagenham East Tube.

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The drug manufacturer also hopes to open an 80-room hotel and restaurant next to the supermarket, with science and technology laboratories and offices set to pop up across the site.

An NHS clinic including a dental surgery was also expected to open at the front of the site.

However, Sanofi are now trying to give the NHS a home at one of its existing science labs.

Mr Moretta indicated the health centre could connect the public with businesseast by acting as a “gateway” to science and technology park.

Mark Bass, Sanofi land development and partnership leader, added: “businesseast is the legacy we intend to leave behind us – a legacy that creates several thousand new jobs on this site and, importantly, can help to protect our skills base and our marvellous research, development and manufacturing facilities.”