A university that made a £2.6m bid to build a site in Crawley is now planning a campus for 3,500 students in Horsham instead.
The University of Brighton (UB) has entered negotiations to buy the pharmaceutical company Novartis’s former site.
A spokesman for UB said the centre would create an estimated 2,250 jobs, bring £1.7bn of investment to the region and provide around 3,500 students places.
He said: “This Novartis site in Horsham provides an excellent opportunity for the university to develop a more significant presence in the Gatwick Diamond.
“It also provides a very high quality location and facilities which the university will aim to exploit to support small business start-up and growth, particularly around biotechnology and biomedicine.”
The university put in a bid to build a £2.6m campus in Crawley town centre in 2009. The spokesman for the Higher Education Funding Council for England said the funding scheme for it ended with the change of government in 2010.
Crawley MP Henry Smith said: “A new university campus in Horsham would be a welcome addition to our areas education environment and fit well with the new University Centre at Central Sussex College. Together these will give more choice and opportunity to Crawley young people.”
The UB spokesman said it had been interested and commitment to the Gatwick Diamond area since 2007. He said it lacked higher education provision, had businesses and employees who could benefit from professional development and an airport that makes the area very attractive to international students.
A spokesman for Novartis added: “This is still subject to the usual negotiations when trying to agree a contract, but the university’s proposal offers an exciting opportunity which could bring long term benefits to the town and local residents, as well as realise our ambition in leaving a scientific legacy at the site.”