UK's Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC) fast-tracked at Harwell campus

21 April 2020

Artist's impression of the VMIC at Harwell_image credit-VMIC
Artist's impression of the VMIC at Harwell_image credit-VMIC

Construction work has begun ahead of schedule to build the highly specialist facility that will house the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell Science & Innovation Campus. VMIC, a not for profit organisation, will provide the first bespoke strategic vaccine development & manufacturing capability for the UK.

A rapidly accelerated programme, due to COVID-19, will aim to see the 7,000 m2 (footprint) state-of-the-art facility opening its doors in 2021, ahead of the original scheduled date in 2022. An unprecedented collaborative effort between The Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre, Harwell Campus, Vale of the White Horse District Council, UK Research & Innovation (including STFC), and Glencar, the main contractor, has accelerated the construction of this complex build in order to bring the facility on line early so that it can provide an emergency response capability for the UK.

Dr Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive of the Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre said: “While no-one could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing all we can to fast track the build, so VMIC is set-up to offer long-term support to the UK’s future vaccines needs, while simultaneously contributing right now to the vital work that will help us emerge from this pandemic.

Talking about the VMIC's role in COVID-19 vaccine research, Dr Duchars continued: “As well as working with the Harwell team and contractors to deliver the build rapidly ahead of schedule, VMIC scientists and engineers are working round the clock as part of the BIA CoViD19 Taskforce, and alongside Oxford University advising on manufacturing options of the vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which has recently opened for trial.

Ground works began on the site at Harwell Campus in early April and it is expected that the base-build will be ready for early access for fit-out, in late July/early August.

Talking about the broader importance of VMIC to the Harwell Life Sciences community, Dr Adrian Hill, STFC Lead for the Harwell HealthTec Cluster said: “The accelerated development is not only timely for the UK in respect to COVID-19, but it aligns well with our plans to fast-track the development of the campus as a leading hub for the research and manufacture of advanced medicines and therapies.

The Centre’s main funding comes through a £65 million grant from UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

About the Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC)
VMIC was founded in 2019 by three academic institutions (University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) with support from industrial partners (Merck Sharp & Dohme, Johnson & Johnson, and GE Healthcare).

Much of the vaccines research work will be through collaborative ventures with organisations ranging from small and medium sized businesses, through to large multinationals operating in the Life Sciences sector.

The Centre’s main funding comes through a £65 million grant from UK Research & Innovation, as part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Additional funding is also being provided from commercial and other partners, including Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V., Merck Sharp & Dohme and Wellcome. Expertise and training in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment will be provided by GE Healthcare

About Harwell
Harwell Science & Innovation Campus is a world-leading science, research, technology & business campus with more than: 6000 people, £2bn of national labs, 60 nationalities and 225 organisations working at the forefront of UK innovation and discovery.

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