Mini Silicon Valley planned at Sanofi site in Dagenham

A global drug manufacturer is spearheading plans to turn its Dagenham factory into a mini Silicon Valley featuring one of Europe’s biggest information centres.

Sanofi pharmaceuticals are in talks with a leading IT company to open a 33,000 square metre computer centre at its site in Rainham Road South next year.

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

The plans would deliver hundreds of jobs and help to guarantee the future of the pharmaceutical factory site, which will close with the loss of around 400 posts next year.

It would also help to maintain the status of the town as a major employment centre as car giant Ford faces up to 1,000 job losses if a new engine contract is not awarded to its factory in Chequers Lane.

Sanofi, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical groups, is negotiating the takeover with the IT firm behind closed doors.

Sanofi land development and partnership leader Mark Bass, 59, said: “We are very hopeful that it will come to fruition.

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“We’re doing a lot of work on planning. It’s a great opportunity for the area with hi-tech facilities and a good range of jobs.” The multi-national drug company is trying to regenerate the Dagenham site with a new business park, after announcing the closure of its factory due to flagging demand for its cancer drugs.

The name of the IT company has not been disclosed because of confidentiality reasons, but according to Sanofi, it hopes to submit a planning application soon with a view to starting its operation either next year or in 2014.

A Sanofi spokesman told the Post: “We are talking to a leading IT company to create a technology park, which would create hundreds of new jobs. The building would be one of Europe’s biggest data centres...this is a multi-million pound project.”

Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing to turn the other half of the manufacturing site featuring state-of-the-art laboratories into a science park.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: “I am very confident that we will attract serious investors and bring many jobs and opportunities to the area.”

Meanwhile the May & Baker sports club, which has close ties to Sanofi, is to be relaunched as a charity next year called the The May & Baker Eastbrook Community Club.

Mr Bass added: “In many ways its future is stronger with a charity status. It opens up funding that was not available.”