The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) is requesting government funds to help set up four new Centres of Excellence for medicines manufacturing across the UK, in line with wider plans to build on the exporting strengths of the UK's biopharma sector.

​According to the Partnership’s ‘Manufacturing Vision for UK Pharma’, the centres - for which the estimated set up cost is £140 million - would help plug gaps in the country’s capabilities in areas like diagnostics and packaging, advanced therapy production and small molecule processing, as well as provide new highly-skilled roles in all regions.

The paper is asking for government support in establishing a Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Scotland capable of providing a clinical supply of medicines, and to further develop manufacturing capabilities at EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation.

Funds are also being sought for: an open-access facility to allow the manufacturing of complex medicines and handling of high-potency materials; a centre to support the development of the next generation of packaging technology and smart devices required for new types of medicines; and to further support a centre for manufacturing cutting-edge specialised cell and gene therapies.

According to the group, the proposed technology centres will allow for more open technology and innovation development “with a focus on ensuring that there is this capability to ultimately enable clinical supply,” and that the sharing of common technology platforms and connection between product, process and pack are a “unique proposition” that would complement current facilities, “positioning the UK as a ‘one stop shop’ technology hub for all forms of pharmaceutical research, development and manufacture.”

The return on an investment of £140 million investment over three years would be through service fees for access to technology resources (both equipment and expertise), and through indirect investment when global companies select the UK as a base to research and manufacture their medicines, it says.

"The UK is already one of the best places in the world to research and develop exciting new medicines for hard-to-treat diseases, but needs to improve when it comes to manufacturing and packaging them, ready to go to patients,” noted Andy Evans, chair of the MMIP. "This new infrastructure is needed to ensure high-value jobs in manufacturing and packaging with know-how scales and grows here.”

The plan has received backing from the BioIndustry Association, the Association of the British Pharmaceuticals Industry, and the Association of British Healthcare Industries.