Invest in cutting-edge R&D centres and make UK best place in the world for future medicines

Manufacturing Vision for UK Pharma’ details how the centres would help plug gaps in the UK’s capabilities, in areas like diagnostics and packaging, advanced therapy production and small molecule processing. All regions of the UK would see highly skilled jobs created to help support and expand existing advance medicine research and development activity.

The Government has already made it clear that investing in cutting-edge healthcare and medicine is important and has set-aside an investment of £197 million over the next 4 years to develop first-in-class technologies for the manufacture of medicines1. These will speed up patient access to new medicines and treatments and build on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector.

The NHS has also made similar commitments in its newest business plan to focus on “enhancement of our medicines manufacturing capabilities” 2.

The paper sets out a practical plan of action for how the Government and the pharmaceutical industry can work together to build up the UK’s medicine manufacturing sector. The roadmap seeks Government funding for three Centres of Excellence including:

  • A Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) in Scotland capable of providing a clinical supply of medicines and further develop manufacturing capabilities at EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation – already a world-class international hub for manufacturing research and training
  • An open-access facility to allow the manufacturing of complex medicines and handling of high-potency materials
  • A centre to support the development of the next generation of packaging technology and smart devices required for new types of medicines, such as specialised packs
  • Continued support for a centre for manufacturing cutting-edge specialised cell and gene therapies

The investment of £140m over three years would be paid back in the long term by pharmaceutical companies both in fees to access to the research hubs and through indirect investment as global companies choose the UK as a base to research and launch their medicines. These Centres could be spread throughout the UK including one in Scotland and one in the North of England.

Partnership working would ally ‘bricks and mortar’ investment from the Government, with world-leading talent and access to innovative research from industry. Access to the science centres of excellence would be on a pay-per-use basis, with UK universities and charities given discounted rates.

Andy Evans, Chair of the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) said:

“The UK is already one of the best places in the world to research and develop exciting new medicines for hard-to-treat diseases, but falls down when it comes to manufacturing and packaging them, ready to go to patients.

“The UK has to import materials and medicines and is vulnerable to supply shortages because manufacturing and packaging happens overseas in the USA, Japan and the EU. Ultimately high-value jobs and manufacturing know-how is being lost because the infrastructure isn’t here to keep them.

“From early-stage research and development to manufacturing and packaging, we want a coherent, joined up system so that patients will benefit when first-in-kind medicines are launched in the same place they are discovered.”

The Centres of Excellence would allow staff to be trained alongside some of the best manufacturing and packaging experts in the world. A recent report estimated an additional 400-600 skilled staff will be required over the next 2 years to match the growth of the ‘advanced therapies’ drugs sector in the UK3.

This roadmap looks to support the UK Government’s commitment to provide training in emerging technologies and make Britain ‘future ready’. It also aims to provide the industry’s priorities in medicines manufacturing to inform the Government’s imminent Industrial Strategy and funding mechanisms such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The roadmap asks the Government to provide support for advanced therapies manufacturing as laid out in the 2016 Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Action Plan3


Notes to Editor

The roadmap is available online via this link.


  1. Business Secretary announces Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments. Cutting-edge healthcare and medicine: an investment of £197 million over 4 years to develop first-of-a-kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments, building on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector.
  2. Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View, the NHS “This opportunity sits alongside further strengthening of the science base and clinical trials capability and the creation of an environment which enables small biotech and medtech companies to thrive and grow, and enhancement of our medicines manufacturing capabilities.”, Page 70
  3. ‘Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Action Plan: Retaining and attracting advanced therapies manufacture in the UK’ – Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP)

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