Business Secretary Greg Clark MP has announced the UK’s first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), said to represent a “major commercial opportunity”, and also a new front line in the nation’s defence against global pandemic threats.

To be up and running by 2022, the VMIC addresses the UK’s structural gap in late-stage vaccine manufacturing process development.

It will allow development and manufacture of vaccines for clinical trials and at moderate scale for emergency preparedness for epidemic threats to the UK population.

The £66-million Centre, awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation through the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge, will be a “purpose-built, state-of-the-art” facility, allowing for academic and industry collaboration on the development, design and manufacture of vaccines.

Located on a new site at The Oxford Science Park, the VMIC will have the potential for additional commercial capability, such as for emergency preparedness, for larger scale manufacturing of vaccines to be funded by industry and the Department of Health and Social Care.

UK government will also be able to use the VMIC to manufacture vaccines rapidly in the event of a pandemic affecting the UK, for example influenza, and it will also enable rapid global response to emerging highly infectious epidemic pathogens such as Ebola and Zika.

Piers Scrimshaw-Wright, managing director of The Oxford Science Park, said: “The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will be a major part of the UK life sciences research and manufacturing infrastructure, and it is a real honour for us that it will be located here.

“It complements our long-term commitment to science, innovation and entrepreneurship in Oxford, and we look forward to working with the VMIC team as the facility takes shape.”