2020 has undoubtedly been a year to remember. While COVID-19 forced us to adapt to new challenges and new ways of working quickly, our remarkable network of partners and team members rose to the challenge. As a result, it has been another year of bringing bright ideas and innovations into the marketplace.
While this year has been challenging, it has also been a powerful reminder of the innovations that can come out of challenges. Necessity is the mother of invention, and CPI has been proudly supporting efforts to create vaccines and therapies in the fight against COVID-19.
In April, we joined the National Taskforce to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine through the development and scale-up of Imperial College London’s saRNA vaccine. Large-scale manufacturing of saRNA and mRNA vaccines occupies new territory. We are excited to be at the forefront of this industry, which has the potential to transform the future of vaccines, beyond just COVID-19. The hard work, dedication and collaboration of the wider team has been something to behold, and the dots have certainly been connected for both future pandemics and the industry as a whole.
In addition, in October, we joined the UK BIA Taskforce, a leading UK consortium developing antibodies for treating COVID-19. Specifically, we will be supporting the manufacture of antibodies used for the development of an antibody ‘cocktail’ – a combination of antibodies that can be used to protect against COVID-19.
Our work on vaccines this past year has not been strictly limited to COVID-19. In July, we announced a partnership with Excivion Ltd, to optimise the manufacture of their novel Zika vaccine antigen candidate. This flavivirus vaccine platform has the potential to produce safe and effective vaccines for viruses that represent some of the world’s most significant pandemic risks.
Looking beyond COVID-19 and vaccine development, it has been another strong year for innovation in healthcare. The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre officially broke ground, with the construction of its state-of-the-art facility in Renfrewshire, UK beginning in October. This first-of-its-kind facility will enable partners across industry, academia and government to work together in a GMP environment to revolutionise the future of medicines manufacturing.
In 2019, the Centre announced the launch of Grand Challenge 1 and Grand Challenge 2, two industrial hurdles currently limiting pharmaceutical manufacturing. To help fulfil these Grand Challenges, we introduced three new digital technology companies to the Centre in August as well as a leading software company to the Centre in September.
We have also been working hard to support the development of complex medicines. In July, we joined a collaboration with MicrofluidX and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to develop bioprocessing technology for the rapid scale-up of cell and gene therapies. This past year we also joined a collaborative project to strengthen our nanotherapeutics capabilities, evaluating a new microfluidic-based platform to help improve the scale-up, process development and manufacture of nanotherapeutic delivery systems.
Moving beyond healthcare, we supported many sustainability-related projects and ventures this past year, beginning in January when CPI joined the judging panel for the National Geographic Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge. In June, we completed a sustainable aquaculture project, funded by the UK Seafood Innovation Fund, to help create a more sustainable and efficient future for UK aquaculture.
Sustainability is also a major trend that is shifting the future of the global fashion and textiles market. In January, Worn Again Technologies, a pioneering polymer recycling technology firm, launched a pilot plant facility – a significant step forward in its development process – at our scale-up facilities in Wilton, Redcar.
This past year we have also supported several projects to help reduce our reliance and production of fossil fuels. Partnering with LiNa Energy, we helped to demonstrate proof-of-concept of their novel sodium-nickel-chloride battery. As a radical alternative to the lithium-cobalt ion battery, this technology could help facilitate the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. We also collaborated with 3D Bio-Tissues Ltd to develop an improved growth media for culturing meat cells in a lab. This sustainable and economical way of culturing meat will help meet the nutritional needs of our growing global population.
This year has also brought some new faces to our management team. Nigel Perry, who led CPI from its inception over 17 years ago, stepped down as CEO and we welcomed our new CEO, Frank Millar, in April, stepping up from his previous role as Chief Operating Officer. Steve Bagshaw was appointed as CPI’s Non-Executive Director in September, bringing with him a wealth of experience from leadership roles in pharmaceutical manufacturing and industrial biotechnology and Maureen Wedderburn was appointed as Chair of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre Supervisory Board.
In October we launched our new investor engagement and ventures arm which is designed to fuel the development of fast-growing, high-potential companies in the deep-tech space. Our aim is to connect investors and entrepreneurs across the UK to stimulate impactful investment into innovative technology companies. This connection creates mutually beneficial efficiencies of capital and time on both sides. Investors will benefit from bespoke investment opportunities, and obtain direct access to next-generation, proven technology, while companies can access investment to accelerate their next stage of development
Finally, none of these outputs would be possible without our fantastic team. We are pleased to have received several awards this year, recognising our team members and highlighting what makes us stand out.
In January, we racked up three awards at the annual North East Process Industry Cluster award ceremony, including the Young Achiever Award, the Apprentice of the Year Award and the Apprenticeship Employer Award. Our strength in apprenticeships was also recognised by the National Apprenticeship Service, where we were named one of the Top 100 apprenticeship employers in the UK in 2020.
In November, our Process Development team was awarded the IChemE Team Award at the prestigious IChemE Global Awards 2020. This award recognises the team’s hard work on complex scale-up projects, accomplished through their exceptional teamwork. To get a glimpse of how well the team works together, you can watch their video here.
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CPI ensures that great inventions gets the best opportunity to become a successfully marketed product or process. We provide industry-relevant expertise and assets, supporting proof of concept and scale up services for the development of your innovative products and processes.