Having announced the closure of its site in Horsham, UK, Novartis has hired PharmaVentures to look at future options, including the setting-up of a science park.

Following a global review of locations and a consultation process, the Swiss major announced the closure in February, saying it expect research operations at Horsham to cease by the end of June. The move has put 400 jobs at risk.

However, Novartis stresses that it is "committed to exploring options for the future of the site," which could including reusing part of it for a science or business park. This would create "a legacy with the possibility of some highly skilled jobs for the area in the future".

The company has therefore appointed PharmaVentures "to assist us in providing expert advice on the feasibility of doing this, and to help identify potential partners". In the meantime, part of the site, which is used as the current car park, has been sold to the developer Linden Homes.

Fintan Walton, chief executive of PharmaVentures, said that "with such high quality facilities, we expect interest from both universities and research institutes". He added that Horsham will also be ideal as a business park as it is an attractive location "due to its strong international links through Gatwick airport and its proximity to London".

Novartis went on to state that it will continue to employ over 2,500 people and be "a major inward investor to the UK". It will retain "an extensive footprint in the UK" with manufacturing sites at Grimsby (chem operations), Liverpool (vaccines) and Dundee (animal health), plus commercial offices in Surrey, and a team at Sittingbourne, Kent, developing patient diagnostic testing products.

The news comes days after London mayor Boris Johnson unveiled the capital's £4 million MedCity initiative, while last month AstraZeneca sold its huge Alderley Park site to Manchester Science Parks.