UK government boosts vaccine manufacturing capacity at Harwell

19 May 2020 01:02 PM

The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a not-for-profit organisation providing the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability, has been awarded up to £131 million by the government, boosting investment in the UK’s vaccines infrastructure and increasing capacity to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine.

VMIC will invest in more technology to increase its manufacturing capacity at its permanent facility, currently being built at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, in order to produce 70 million vaccine doses in four-six months from opening – a 20-fold increase from current figures. Furthermore, the facility’s building schedule will be accelerated to allow it to come online in summer 2021 – a year ahead of schedule.

A ‘virtual VMIC’ will be created, procuring manufacturing equipment, recruiting highly-specialist people, and securing physical space to create a temporary manufacturing centre ready to make vaccines at pace and scale once a viable COVID-19 vaccine has been found.

Welcoming the scale-up and acceleration of the state-of-the art facility Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director of Harwell Clusters and Business Development at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said: “Investing in the acceleration and expansion of VMIC is wise both in the medium- and long-term. Opening the facility a year ahead of schedule will strengthen the UK’s efforts to tackle COVID-19 and give us resilience for future pandemics.

“In the long-term, with increased R&D and manufacturing capability, the Centre will act as a catalyst to strengthen the UK vaccines value chain – creating new fields of expertise and driving forward innovation to the benefit of the global science community.”

VMIC was established by the University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with support from industrial partners, Merck Sharpe and Dohme, Johnson and Johnson, and GE Healthcare. The new funding comes through UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and is in addition to an original £65 million grant, with a further £10 million provided by industry partners and other businesses.

Harwell Science and Innovation Campus is rapidly expanding via a private public partnership between Brookfield Asset Management and two government agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Find out more about the new funding for VMIC from the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus announcement.