UK government announces £5.5m for a Medical Manufacturing Skills Centre of Excellence

Article by Amanda Jasi

TO SUSTAIN and grow the UK life sciences sector’s more than 280,000-strong workforce, the government has announced £5.5m (US$6.8m) to establish a Medicines Manufacturing Skills Centre of Excellence.

Helping to drive innovation and ensure the UK is prepared to respond to future health emergencies, the centre will focus on building a skilled workforce with support from an agile and responsive skills system, and “retaining the world’s best science and technology talent”.

The UK government said that the centre will build on existing infrastructure and best practice, and deliver sustainable end-to-end provision, all of which industry needs to continue growing.

A competition to allocate the grant funding will launch on 26 September. Funding will be awarded by national innovation agency Innovate UK, as part of its Transforming Medicines Manufacturing programme. The programme was designed to support and grow the UK’s capabilities in manufacturing medicine through first-of-a-kind technologies to accelerate access to new medicines and treatments.

The grant funding forms part of the £650m Life Sci for Growth “war-chest to fire up the life sciences sector”, launched in May.

Worth £94bn, the UK life sciences sector is central to the government’s ambitions for the economy and plays a fundamental role in health, said George Freeman, minister of state at the department for science, innovation, and technology. He said that to stay at the front of an accelerating global race, the sector needs a “world-class” workforce at its disposal. “The Medicines Manufacturing Skills Centre of Excellence will help ensure that we add to the more than 280,000 high-skilled jobs the life sciences sector already delivers right across the UK,” Freeman added.

Sarah Goulding, executive director of healthy living and agriculture domain at Innovate UK, said: “Talent and skills are fundamental to successful innovation and industry growth. This investment will strengthen the UK’s medicines manufacturing skills and training ecosystem, and make a real difference to the talent and skills pipeline for UK business innovation.”

Steve Bates, CEO of life sciences and biotech industry trade body UK BioIndustry Association, stressed the economic benefit of creating a “world-leading life sciences research and development ecosystem”, that would lead to well-paid jobs and export revenues that power the economy.

The UK government noted that life sciences are central to its Science and Technology Framework, announced in March, which identifies the critical technologies set to make a big difference to health and life sciences progress and includes plans to improve the regulatory landscape for the sector. It said that establishing the skills centre supports crucial elements of the UK Science and Technology Framework: the government’s strategic plan to deliver better health and greater prosperity through the opportunities that science, innovation, and technology present.

The government published its Life Sciences Vision in 2021. In it, the government set the ambition to create a globally competitive environment for life sciences manufacturing investments, building on the strengths of manufacturing R&D, its network of innovation, the manufacturing response to Covid-19, and delivery of the Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund. The fund aims to increase manufacturing capacity in medicines, medical diagnostics, and medtech.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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