Science and Technology Facilities Council
£67Million Cutting-Edge Vaccines Centre to be located at Harwell Campus
Announced today, the UK’s first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) will be located at Harwell Campus. Funded through a £67 million grant from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, VMIC will provide facilities and subject matter expertise that will rapidly accelerate vaccine research in the UK and establish the UK’s first vaccines advanced manufacturing capabilities.
VMIC has been founded by three academic institutions, The University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with support from Industrial partners MSD, Johnson and Johnson, and GE Healthcare. Through working with academic and industry partners, VMIC aims to stimulate and accelerate early stage clinical development, whilst also serving as an emergency response capability for the UK Government to produce vaccines against specific threats, such as epidemics, emerging infectious diseases, and deliberate/accidental release of biological agents.
Heading up the Centre will be newly appointed Chief Executive Dr Matthew Duchars who has worked in the biotechnology business for over 30 years and is experienced in providing strategic direction and technical leadership for the development of medical countermeasures.
Welcoming Dr Duchars to his new role, Sir Mark Walport Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation said, “Dr Duchars will provide strategic leadership for the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. His expertise and experience will ensure that the Centre will get off to a strong start when it opens in 2022. His appointment underlines our commitment to support this vital work in the field of vaccines, which will protect the public and support our burgeoning biotech sector.”
Commenting on his new role, Dr Duchars said: “This is a great time to join such an exciting and prestigious venture. We are assembling a team of leading experts in vaccine science and manufacturing, as well as building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. This will make a real difference as we fight to prevent some of the most dangerous diseases from infecting people, both at home and around the world.”
VMIC will be located on the 710-acre Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, one of Europe’s leading innovation hubs; co-located alongside STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and 225 scientific and technology minded organisations. As part of the Harwell HealthTec Cluster, comprising 1,000 people across 40 organisations, VMIC will sit within a well-established and proven life sciences community where it will grow to become a vital component of the UK’s national scientific infrastructure - providing strategic vaccine development and manufacturing capability.
The centre will provide facilities and subject matter expertise for rapid, effective and economic development and manufacture of vaccines, by working with vaccine developers, funders and key opinion leaders, with the purpose of stimulating and accelerating early stage clinical development (pre-clinical through to Phase 2). It will also serve as an emergency response capability for the UK government, to produce vaccines against specific threats, such as epidemics, emerging infectious diseases (EID) and deliberate/accidental release of biological agents.
You can learn more here.
Notes for editors:
VMIC will provide an infrastructure to develop vaccine manufacturing processes (TRL5-9+) at scale, building on the existing MRC and BBSRC funded work at TRL 2-4. It will also have the potential for additional commercial capability, such as for emergency preparedness, for larger scale manufacturing of vaccines to be funded by industry and the Department of Health and Social Care.
The centre will be a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility, allowing for academic and industry collaboration on the development, design and manufacture of vaccines, similar to the roles of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre.
The Centre’s main funding comes through a £67 million grant from UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). Additional funding of £10 million will come from commercial and other partners, including Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD). The Centre will be further supported by bioprocessing expertise and training from GE Healthcare.
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