2022 once again demonstrated how CPI adds real value across many science and technology domains and delivers impact for our partners from industry, academia, and government.
Healthcare is an area of increasing importance and expertise for CPI.
We all hope the pandemic is behind us, but we must remain vigilant and prepare for the future. In July, we joined a consortium funded to the tune of $30m by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to advance Caltech’s new all-in-one coronavirus vaccine technology, which could protect against current and future SARS-CoV‑2 variants and other SARS-like Betacoronaviruses. CPI will lead on manufacturing tasks.
The opening of our Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Glasgow in November underlines our expertise in pharma manufacturing. This unique venture unites world-leading science and technology expertise from 24 partner organisations to meet the biggest challenges in medicines development and manufacturing.
Back in May, we announced the development of an innovative capsule that could take the gold-standard treatment for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis out of the hospital and into patients’ homes for the first time. The biologic drug infliximab was successfully repackaged – a first for an oral monoclonal antibody treatment. Now in human trials, it could be transformational for patients and healthcare costs.
One significant challenge is our ageing population. Early in the year, CPI launched a project with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and the North of Tyne Combined Authority to improve the well-being of residents and support local businesses to innovate in technology-based solutions for the ageing population. We also joined a partnership to tackle the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, where we are helping to develop a scaled manufacturing process for the key reagent α‑synuclein (αSyn) protein needed for the early diagnosis of this debilitating disease.
Looking to the future, and thanks to an additional £10.65 million in Government funding, CPI’s first-of-a-kind RNA Centre of Excellence will support the development, scale-up and manufacture of new RNA therapies and vaccines. Meanwhile, our RNA Training Academy will upskill scientists to support the soaring global demand for RNA-based vaccines and therapeutics. The Centre of Excellence is the only site in the UK currently able to develop and manufacture messenger and self-amplifying RNA vaccines and therapies with the capability to manufacture millions of vaccine doses for any future pandemic.
Adapting or building new systems to enable the circular economy is an emerging priority across all sectors. Recent energy price spikes are re-emphasising the need to embrace new renewable energy sources and redouble our energy and resource efficiency efforts.
For example, there is a huge need for low-energy, sustainable and cost-effective solutions for metal recycling. CPI is working with Descycle on a novel and low-impact technology termed Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) that allows the extraction of metals without the high carbon footprint or highly toxic chemicals associated with traditional metal processing. The technology could extract up to 99% of metals found in e‑waste.
Skipping to a completely different sector, CPI supported Newcastle University to scale up production of its newly developed biopesticide candidate based around cloned venom proteins from tube-web spiders.
Aviation is a significant source of carbon emissions. But what if the problem could also contribute a solution? During 2022 CPI worked with the FastAceJet project to develop novel processes that create sustainable aviation fuel from waste carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
CPI also participated in another aspect of the ‘alternative protein revolution’ in 2022 that could dramatically impact carbon emissions: creating meat from cell culture, rather than from farming animals. We helped develop a novel, cost-effective, and ethical growth medium for cultured meat production with 3D Bio-Tissues. Similarly, we have also been working with partners Deep Branch to help commercialise its CO2-to-protein technology platform. Food for thought?
Supporting alternative protein manufacture is also one of the priorities for the new food-grade capability that is being created at our Wilton Centre following a £2 million investment.
Places and partners
In March, we moved into The Catalyst building on Newcastle Helix, a 24-acre city centre development that creates a hub for innovation. Co-located alongside National Innovation Centres for both Ageing and Data, our new home in Newcastle is helping us nurture existing relationships in the region and connect with more high-potential start-ups, SMEs, and investors.
During 2022, CPI built new links in the northwest of England, opening an office within Liverpool Science Park in April. This followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Liverpool in March to further expand interactions across research disciplines and strategic innovation priorities. Our new presence in Liverpool will help drive innovation and economic growth in the region.
We strengthened our involvement in the northwest more recently with a new office at Bruntwood SciTech’s Circle Square in Manchester. Co-located with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, our new office will help spark further investment and support the creation of high-quality jobs, especially in the city’s manufacturing sectors. This was emphasised in November with the signing of an MoU between HVM Catapult (including CPI), Innovation Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Combined Authority to help manufacturing businesses improve their productivity through supporting R&D. The HVM Catapult will provide a £1.7 billion manufacturing boost to the region including high-tech foreign direct investment.
In October we extended our relationships in Manchester by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of Manchester to strengthen our alliance to drive industrial development, boost economic growth and deliver social impact.
Our ambitious growth plans have also seen us expand our teams during 2022 – with more recruitment to follow next year.
We welcomed five new non-executive directors – Catherine Quinn, George Gillespie, Jez Maiden, Myrtle Dawes and Jackie Waring – who will diversify and strengthen our Board, bringing fresh perspectives and experience of substantial innovation successes from industry, the investment community, and the public and grant-awarding sectors.
We also welcomed Brendan Fish as our Director of Biologics who will support the scale-up and commercialisation of novel techniques, including RNA technology. Rahul Kapoor joined us as our first HealthTech Director – a position that looks to accelerate CPI innovation to improve global health and care.
But CPI is a team of innovation creatives who all contribute to our success and the success of our partners, and we celebrate their input, talent, and impact. Some come from overseas, like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) summer placement students Bryan Wong and Alexander Greer. Others hail from closer to home, like Technology and Innovation Officer, Michael Anyadiegwu, or Research Scientist, Libby Forster. But we appreciate and celebrate all our team members and thank them for their work.
With COVID-19 (hopefully) behind us, we have all been getting back to a (new) normal in 2022. The pandemic has made us all think a little deeper about our own health and that of others. And the current energy crisis emphasises the critical need for all to embrace sustainability in our lives. CPI is incredibly proud of what we achieve with our partners in healthcare, sustainability, and with innovation in general. We are proud of the very real impact this work already has today and will do in the future across the UK and beyond.
Have a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2023 from all of us at CPI.
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