Blog 29 Nov 2023 

A year of delivering impact at the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre

It’s been a year since we opened our Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Scotland. Here, we share some of the highlights over the past year.

Dave Tudor

Dave Tudor

Managing Director, Pharmaceuticals, HealthTech & Quality

The first year at our facility in Scotland has been marked by significant achievements, laying a solid foundation for future success. By bringing key players together, we are finding solutions to some of the core issues facing the pharmaceutical industry today so we can shape the future of medicines manufacturing in the UK.

It has been a year since the launch of our Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, and what a year it has been. The centre is a unique collaboration of 27 partners across pharma, government, business, and academia, who came together to transform how we make medicines. 

Operating on a Grand Challenge model, we identify and overcome some of the industry’s biggest technology challenges, so that we can benefit patients by making medicines that are more cost-effective and sustainably manufactured. 

The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre officially opened on the 30th of November 2022 and is located within the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS). Our founding partners include the University of Strathclyde, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Scottish Enterprise, and global pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca and GSK

We’re proud of what has been achieved over our first year at the facility, which is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the team and partners working here. 

Since its official opening, multiple projects have been initiated within the facility, earning it recognition as a hub for innovation, collaboration, and sustainable technology advancement. The Centre has also successfully secured funding of £125 million, which includes £43 million from both the UK and Scottish governments, matched by industry buy-in at £48 million. This has been secured ahead of the 5‑year deadline that was announced at the start of the Grand Challenges in 2019, a sign of confidence in this first-of-its-kind collaboration for the pharma industry and its role in transforming medicines manufacturing. 

Here are some of the key highlights from the past year in operation.

Industry engagement and knowledge sharing 

Our unique partnership model has allowed us to overcome barriers to collaboration. Tapping into the vibrant expertise of our partners, we have hosted conferences and symposia to promote knowledge sharing and partnership. In September 2023, we co-hosted PharmaTech Integrates with the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS). This event brought together experts from across the pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors to discuss the innovations and trends in pharmaceutical manufacturing. 

An upcoming three-day innovation foundry event in January 2024 will provide an opportunity for innovators — including established SMEs, recent university spin-outs, and academics — to showcase their new technologies and influence the direction of technology development. CPI’s partners will also be present, as will members of the pharma industry, funding agencies, and regulators, enabling them to offer valuable feedback. 

This year we also delivered the inaugural oligonucleotide manufacturing symposium focused on the development and research of these next-generation therapeutics, a rapidly growing area in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Oligonucleotides have a wide range of applications, from genetic testing to research and treatment of rare diseases. The symposium brought together experts from academia and industry to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the sector. The event also highlighted the centre’s expertise in this emerging field, which has been further bolstered by the announcement of a £2.7 million 3‑year partnership with AstraZeneca, Novartis, and The University of Manchester to spur innovation in oligonucleotide therapeutics. 

This effort will be built upon further by the recently announced Oligonucleotide Manufacturing Innovation Centre of Excellence which will focus on developing innovative and sustainable oligonucleotide manufacturing techniques. This new centre cements Scotland at the heart of advanced medicine manufacturing techniques, bringing inward investment to the region, and creating well-paid, highly skilled jobs. 

A foundation for innovation 

We have made significant progress in establishing technical capabilities at the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. The facility is the first of its kind for the pharma industry in the UK, and it operates via a portfolio of collaborative projects, designed to be digitally disruptive and transformational, addressing the key challenges raised by the industry consortia. Additionally, founding partners AstraZeneca and GSK have renewed their support for the facility’s work through new strategic memberships. This continuing investment further solidifies their commitment to this collaboration within a complex and changing industry. There are currently more than 50 partners across industry, academia, government and catapults currently working in the centre, including four of the world’s top 10 pharma companies.

The industry must adapt to the rapid pace of change, and an important aspect of that is its digital transformation which includes using novel digital manufacturing solutions such robotics, artificial intelligence and more. It is part of our digital membership programme to support the industry through this change which could mean reduced costs, increased sustainability and most importantly, improved patient outcomes. The digital membership provides companies access to our expertise and facilities, removes barriers to digital transformation and fosters broader industry engagement to accelerate the adoption of innovative manufacturing technologies. 

We’ve achieved significant milestones on Grand Challenge 1, which optimises the manufacture and formulation of oral tablets. We’ve developed of a novel continuous direct compression (CDC) platform which combines all the manufacturing steps into one continuous Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) system. This system will support the industry to shift from traditional large-batch manufacturing of drugs based on forecast estimates, to continuous and minibatch manufacturing. A CDC line has been successfully installed, and representatives from AstraZeneca recently visited the facility to use the technology. This is just the beginning. GSK representatives are due to visit in early 2024 and we are working with more companies in the UK and abroad to bring them in to the centre in the future. 

A welcoming place of collaboration

The Centre is supported financially by both the UK and Scottish Governments. Its role in the region, creating an advanced manufacturing ecosystem, has seen it attract visits from various members of government. 

Scotland’s National Innovation Strategy, to which CPI had contributed over the preceding year, was launched at the Centre by Richard Lochhead MSP with fellow Ministers in the Scottish Government in attendance. 

Douglas Ross MP MSP, Russell Findlay MSP and Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP visited for innovation-focused tours. We also had the pleasure of welcoming Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UKRI and Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK

The impact of the partnership between Industry, academia and the public sector and the Grand Challenges were key discussion themes in all visits, alongside CPI’s role in building resilience, diversity, connectivity and engagement. 

They were all welcomed to what has become a vibrant and connected hub for innovation. The exterior and landscaping around the facility are now complete, and work on the district heat network (DHN), due to be delivered as part of AMIDS, is underway. 

As an anchor institution at AMIDS, these completions might seem trivial on the surface. But really, they are a part of creating an inviting and inspiring environment for research and innovation to thrive. Soon, there will also be space for food vendors and events in front of the facility, which will create an even stronger sense of community for people based there. 

A stage set for future innovation

The last year has been one of remarkable progress and achievement. The Centre has established itself as a leading institution at the forefront of transforming medicine manufacturing. The team’s achievements in delivering next-generation technology, securing funding, developing facilities, engaging with industry, and embracing digital transformation have laid a strong foundation for its future success. 

We have a clear ambition and will continue to work with our partners to continue to deliver results and contribute significantly to the pharmaceutical industry in accelerating drug development, enhancing manufacturing efficiency, and most importantly, improving patient outcomes.

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