A groundbreaking ceremony has marked the start of construction at Moderna’s new Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC) in Harwell, Oxfordshire.
The event was attended by the CEO of the UK Health Security Agency, Professor Dame Jenny Harries; local community leaders; and representatives from the UK’s health resilience and life sciences community.
The MITC will encompass research, development, and manufacturing for Moderna’s future work around pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.
It is hoped that the facility will provide the UK public with access to mRNA vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, pending independent regulatory assessment and licensure.
Commenting on the facility, Darius Hughes, UK general manager at Moderna, said: “We are delighted to celebrate this important milestone today alongside our partners from the UK government and Harwell.
“We look forward to continuing our collaboration throughout construction of the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre, and beyond, to bring innovative vaccines to the UK public to help protect against emerging respiratory health threats.”
Moderna says its investment will create hundreds of jobs – both during construction and operation.
The MITC will include a clinical biomarker laboratory constructed by offsite specialist Merit.
The Drug Substance and Manufacturing facility, to be fitted out by Birmingham-based engineering firm IPS, is expected to become operational in 2025.
Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “Thanks to this partnership between the government and Moderna, NHS patients across the country will have access to cutting-edge mRNA vaccines to fight future COVID variants and other respiratory viruses, so it’s great to see construction starting on this new centre.
“Putting spades in the ground in Harwell also marks a new chapter in the country’s pandemic preparedness as up to 250 million vaccines per year will be produced here – helping to keep the UK population safe in the event of a future pandemic.”
Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “This facility will significantly strengthen the UK’s vaccine development and research capabilities, helping shore up our defences against future health threats, including pandemics.
“Once built, it will be capable of producing millions of vaccines against respiratory diseases and other illnesses, placing the UK at the global forefront of health science and innovation.
“Partnerships like the one we have with Moderna will help us remain agile in our response to health threats as they emerge, and the construction of this facility will help ensure the UK has a health protection system fit for the future.”
Stuart Grant, chief executive of Harwell Campus, said: “Starting construction of the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre is an important milestone for the campus.
“It signifies the growing depth and breadth of innovative research into mRNA and nucleic acid therapeutics that is taking place at Harwell.
“We’re looking forward to working closely with Moderna to help them build connections and collaborations across our flourishing Health Tech cluster.”
Image: (L-R) Stuart Grant, Chantal Friebertshaeuser, Darius Hughes, Professor Dame Jenny Harries, Dr. Mel Ivarsson, Nicolas Chornet, and Dr. Barbara Ghinelli at Moderna’s groundbreaking event in Harwell, Oxfordshire. Credit: Harwell Campus
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