The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) will be a specialist facility located at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, playing a critical role for the UK in manufacturing vaccines for COVID-19 and beyond.
The Vale of White Horse District Council gave the centre priority planning status to enable its construction, allowing work to start on the build months before planning permission was granted.
A different approach
Due to COVID-19 and VMIC’s national and international significance, the council took a different approach and fast-tracked the application process, meaning that much of the planning work taking place behind the scenes was carried out simultaneously to construction work.
Dr Neil Geddes, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Executive Director for national laboratories, science and technologies, said:
This is a welcome milestone in the VMIC project, which helps to reinforce the importance of the Harwell campus as a research hub for the UK.
An additional government grant of £93 million was awarded to VMIC in May 2020 to expand the facility’s capabilities and bring forward operational readiness to 2021, a year ahead of the original scheduled date.
Increase manufacturing capacity
Alongside this, VMIC has invested in more technology to increase its manufacturing capacity 20-fold, to be capable of producing 70 million pandemic vaccine doses in four to six months.
The additional funding is delivered by 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. A further £10 million is provided by industry partners and other businesses.
VMIC’s location at the Harwell campus will make it a pillar organisation of the Harwell HealthTec Cluster and give it crucial access to national facilities including:
- Diamond Light Source
- Rosalind Franklin Institute
- Research Complex at Harwell
- STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
- businesses in the global and UK life sciences sector.
Top image: Representatives from VMIC, Harwell Campus Management (project managers), Carter Jonas (the planning consultant) and Glencar Construction (main construction company) on the VMIC site. (Credit: Harwell Campus)