£13m Translational Research Facility in Infectious Disease to Bolster North West’s Status as International Powerhouse in Life Sciences

Medicines Discovery Catapult

The UK’s centre for therapeutics innovation, Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), has received a £5 million grant to build a Translational Research Facility in Infectious Disease on its Alderley Park site, as part of the government’s Getting Building Fund programme.

Actively seeking collaborations with SMEs, academics and others in infectious disease research, the new facility is set to become a beacon of science and enterprise and a critical infrastructure for future infection readiness. Likewise, the multi-million pound government grant represents a major vote of confidence in the potential of the region for Life Sciences.

Building on the success of the MDC-led Lighthouse Lab, which employs >650 staff at Alderley Park and has undertaken more than 10 million diagnostic tests for Covid-19, the £13m MDC match-funded project is set to enable SMEs and academic innovators to advance the next generation of innovative therapeutics, diagnostics and biomarkers for high risk infectious diseases towards patient use.

Due for completion in March 2022, the project incorporates 8,000 sq. ft. of specialist laboratory space, and will include the creation of a UK-leading category 3 biosafety (BSL3) facility, growing the capacity and capability of UK’s medicines discovery sector. The new high containment labs will unlock access to expertise and infrastructure for academics and commercial organisations alike to rapidly develop and validate diagnostics and treatments fora range of 21st century challenges, such as COVID19 and the emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The Translational Research Facility will be a welcome addition to what is already the second largest life sciences cluster in the UK. The North West contains a wealth of expertise in infection and immunology research, and this new investment will further attract new therapeutic and diagnostics businesses into the area.

Professor Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer at The Medicines Discovery Catapult, said:

“We’re delighted with this funding, which will enable us to widen our state of the art laboratory capabilities which we already offer to companies and innovators across the nation. The new facility will further enable impactful research towards validating new Infectious Disease therapeutics and diagnostics. MDC exists to support UK innovators and is passionate about growing the UK’s ability to respond to major and emerging health challenges.

“Given the North West’s extensive research knowledge in infectious disease, and MDC’s existing investment in state-of-the-art bioanalytical capabilities to translate new projects towards commercialisation, there is a real opportunity to utilise this new facility  to grow the region’s strength and to respond effectively to global needs post-Covid.”

“The funding has presented us with a new opportunity to further realise Alderley Park, Cheshire, and the wider North West’s potential as a global player in Infection Biology translation; maximising the region’s economic growth and international prominence.”

MDC already has established working relationships with many life science organisations across the region and provided input into the Cheshire & Warrington LEP’s regional life sciences strategy.

Clare Hayward MBE, DL, Chair of the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership says:

“As we have seen with the Covid-19 pandemic, infectious diseases represent some of the biggest challenges to global public health. Scientists at Alderley Park are developing a new generation of technologies in therapeutics, preventatives and diagnostics that promise to radically improve our biosecurity.

“Life science research is a fundamental strength of the regional economy and drives growth. Alderley Park itself is central to the Cheshire Science Corridor and our Enterprise Zone. This latest project with the Medicines Discovery Catapult is another example of our commitment to the site, which to date has included the £3.9m grant towards the refurbishment of the Glasshouse building, and 18 of the investments from the Greater Manchester & Cheshire Life Science Investment Fund.”

The medicines industry is one of the UK’s leading sectors, with exports worth over £22 billion. Building an international powerhouse on Cheshire & Warrington’s strengths in innovative pharmaceutical validation and development will result in positive regional and national economic impact. This will lead to significant increases in productivity, employment, and quality of life in the North West.

If you have any enquiries about the new research facility and would like to discuss possible collaborations please contact: partner@md.catapult.org.uk