BES injects specialist expertise into VMIC vaccine facility

Date published: 20 October 2020

Rochdale-based pharmaceutical design and construction specialist BES has been appointed to fit-out the new Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) in Oxfordshire.

The project has been fast-tracked for early completion in 2021 due to Covid-19 and will enable vaccine developers to refine their processes and prepare vaccines for clinical trials.

This Government-funded project was already planned prior to the pandemic, with completion originally scheduled for 2022. The urgent need to produce vaccines at scale to fight future pandemics has prompted the project handover to be moved forward by 12 months.

Steve Marsh, managing director of BES, said: “Effective vaccines play an important role in public health, and the new VMIC facilities will enable the UK to respond quickly to new health risks, including pandemics, by enabling large scale production of vaccines for both clinical use and emergency response.”

Earlier this year the Rochdale firm completed a new facility for Covid-19 vaccine researchers Cobra Biologics despite the pandemic.

With more than 18 years’ experience of delivering complex pharmaceutical environments, BES will leverage the expertise of its multidisciplinary team to provide design coordination and internal fit-out of pre-clinical development laboratories, vaccine manufacturing suites, cold storage and filling areas.

Working collaboratively with principal contractor, Glencar Construction, BES will provide integrated process, architectural, mechanical and electrical services to meet the challenging programme and complete the state-of-the-art centre to the highest standards.


The new Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) in Oxfordshire


Eddie McGillycuddy from Glencar Construction said: “Delivering this project will be a major milestone in achieving improved resilience to the pandemic and to any future public health challenges. We are delighted that BES has joined our team and we look forward to rapid progress on site.”

COO of VMIC, Chris Lucas, added: “Delivering the VMIC facility during a pandemic is challenging, and the need to fast-track the project by a year has resulted in a level of complexity unparalleled in construction. With their level of expertise, BES will form an important part of the collaborative group delivering this project of national importance.”

VMIC is a not-for-profit organisation established to provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability and is taking a leading role in advising Government teams on vaccines manufacturing in response to Covid.

Based at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, the organisation’s new 7,400m2 specialist manufacturing centre will enable vaccine developers to refine their processes, prepare vaccines for clinical trials, and scale-up for mass production in the event of any future public health emergencies.

A Government grant of £93m was awarded to VMIC in May 2020 to fast track the build and expand its manufacturing capacity.

The highly specialist facility will form a key element of the Government’s future pandemic response and, when completed, will be capable of producing 70 million pandemic vaccine doses in just four to six months.

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