Merit reaches key project milestone for Moderna's clinical laboratories

Northumberland-headquartered Merit, the UK’s leading industrialised construction and digital manufacturing specialist, has reached a significant project milestone for Moderna’s clinical laboratories project, as part of its new Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC), Harwell, Oxfordshire. Transportation of the offsite components, and subsequent installation on site, began 13th October, 2023.

The offsite components, including 52 PODs have been transported from Merit’s 314,000ft2 Cramlington-based factory to the Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire. Upon arrival, the PODs were craned and lifted into position for installation on site.

This development in the project follows Merit’s announcement in March 2023, when the firm was appointed by biotechnology company Moderna as the main offsite construction partner for the clinical laboratories.

This modern facility will be delivered using Merit’s vertically integrated and innovative product-based approach, UltraPOD®+, promising an eleven-month timescale for the delivery of approximately 2,100m2, BSL-2 and BSL-3 new containment laboratories with a 92% Pre-Manufactured Value.

The laboratories will form part of the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre, which will encompass research, development and a manufacturing facility, which aims to provide the UK public with access to mRNA vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, pending independent regulatory assessment and licensure.

The importance of this new facility cannot be understated, playing a key role in the UK’s resilience to meet the threat of future pandemics, providing the country with access to cutting-edge messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine research used to fight COVID-19. The MITC will create hundreds of jobs during construction and operation in Oxfordshire and around the UK.

The Clinical Laboratories are expected to become operational in 2024 with the manufacturing facility set to open in 2025.

Tony Wells, CEO at Merit, commented: “It’s incredibly exciting to see the offsite components of this facility leave our Cramlington factory for Harwell, Oxfordshire. Ultimately, our team has pioneered a high-quality, specialised offsite solution that will bring cutting-edge technology and medicines to market to help protect public health across the UK. Merit’s UltraPOD®+ product is ideally suited to meet Moderna’s requirements, bringing enormous advantages in terms of quality and speed, both of which are critical factors for the sector.”

Darius Hughes, UK General Manager at Moderna, commented: “We are delighted to mark this important milestone in our commitment to developing a mRNA research, development, and manufacturing facility in the UK. We would like to thank our partners at Merit for constructing the off-site components of these state-of-the-art laboratories, which will play a key role in our search for new vaccines and therapeutics.”

Stuart Grant, Chief Executive of Harwell Campus said: “The delivery of these prefabricated laboratories is another fantastic example of innovative UK engineering being deployed at Harwell Campus. We are excited to take such a significant step towards completing the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre and enabling such crucial research.”

A well-respected and trusted expert in its field, Merit delivers technically complex facilies in a third of the time compared to traditional methods of construction. This project also showcases Merit’s ability to delier on the government’s stringent sustainability considerations by harnessing their zero carbon emissions design philosophy. Further, all of Merit’s facilities are certified BREEAM Excellent as a minimum.


More news and updates 

Aleta Biotherapeutics and Cancer Research UK announce first patient dosed in ALETA-001 Phase 1/2 clinical trial

The Phase 1/2 clinical trial will evaluate safety, dose, PK/PD, and early efficacy signals of Aleta’s first-in-class biologic CAR T-cell engager, ALETA-001. ALETA-001 entering the clinic is a critical milestone toward treatment availability to improve CAR T-cell patient response when a complete response is not achieved or maintained.

UKHSA announced as first PACE collaboration to help tackle deadly antimicrobial resistance

Strategic partnership to support AMR innovators

PrecisionLife and Metrodora Institute partner to accelerate diagnosis of Long COVID

Rapid development and clinical validation of diagnostics that enable innovative clinical care pathways in complex, chronic diseases; targeted precision medicine clinical trials leveraging a complementary diagnostic approach are expected to readout results as early as this year

Optibrium enables collaborative design in its StarDrop platform

The new Idea Tracker capability further improves the efficiency of drug discovery by supporting project management, idea sharing and molecule design tracking.

BugBiome secures investment for pioneering research in sustainable pest protection

BugBiome raises £310,000 in pre-seed investment from Cambridge Angels and Discovery Park Ventures. Investment enables a £330,000 Engineering Biology Grant from Innovate UK for cutting-edge agri-tech research leveraging the microbiome and engineering biology approaches.

Study reveals POLB 001 could be a $10 billion game changer for cancer patients

Independent Research Confirms >$10bn Market Opportunity for POLB 001 as a Preventative Therapy for Cancer Immunotherapy-Induced Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS). Former Amryt Pharma team's arrival supports increasing focus upon Rare and Orphan Diseases

Demand for Golden Triangle lab space surges with highest annual volume since 2015

Demand for life sciences space in the ‘Golden Triangle’ surged in 2023, with the 925,000 sq ft of space representing the highest annual volume since 2015, according to the latest figures from Cushman & Wakefield.

New £100 million engineering biology fund

Six new Engineering Biology Mission Hubs and 22 Mission Awards, to transform solutions in areas like vaccine development, textile manufacturing and food production; New investments to unlock potential of engineering biology as part of the wider National Engineering Biology Programme

Pioneer Group’s regeneration plans for Cambridge’s Grafton Centre approved

Pioneer Group, a leading developer and operator of life science and high-tech campuses, has secured planning permission from Cambridge City Council, subject to S106, for the redevelopment of the Grafton Centre in the city.

Novel drug and software combo tackles hypertension with personalised treatment

Closed Loop Medicine Ltd., a leading TechBio company developing combination prescription drug plus software therapy products that deliver personalised dose optimisation, today announced the publication of a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) (1).


More within