The investment will fund a state-of-the-art Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre.
It will involve an upgrade Benchamark’s Braintree facility to create a fully-licensed manufacturing centre, which is due to open in December 2021. The centre will have the capacity to produce millions of doses each month ensuring the UK has the capabilities to manufacture vaccines, including for emerging diseases, far into the future.
Doing so will increase the UK’s ability to respond to diseases like coronavirus and to prepare for potential future pandemics while creating new, high-skilled jobs to fuel the UK’s economic recovery.
The new centre will complement the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire, thanks to a £93 million investment from the Government. Once complete next year, the facility will have the capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population at scale.
While the centre is under construction, the Government has invested an additional £38 million to establish a rapid deployment facility, opening later this summer, that will support efforts to ensure a successful vaccine is widely available to the public as soon as possible.
The acquisition has helped to secure employment for the facility’s 75-strong workforce.
Earlier this year Benchmark announced that it had initiated a review of its vaccine strategy, including manufacturing and R&D, to determine the best route to deliver a return from its investment in this business to date. The proceeds from recent disposals, including this sale, have raised £42 million for the aquaculture health, genetics and nutrition business.
Trond Williksen, CEO of Benchmark, commented: “I am very pleased to announce this transaction which is another significant step forward in our strategy of becoming a streamlined, profitable business focused on our key areas of competency.
“Benchmark is also delighted that the timing and conclusion of our vaccine strategy review coincides with the need to scale capabilities to manufacture human vaccines in response to Covid-19 and that the talented team at Benchmark will become part of this critical effort.”
Matthew Durdy, CEO of CGT, said: “This commitment from the Government through the BEIS Vaccines Taskforce will enable continued growth and productivity in the cell and gene therapy sector, as well as providing vital resource for vaccine manufacturing and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Accelerating the availability of Covid-19 vaccines, keeping skills and employment, and facilitating growth of the advanced medicines industry will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of the economy.”