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Wed June 03 2020

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Construction accelerated for Harwell vaccine facility

21 Apr Construction of a vaccine production facility on the Harwell science campus near Oxford is being fast-tracked.

CGI of the Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell
CGI of the Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell

Glencar Construction, the main contractor, has begun construction work ahead of schedule to build the specialist facility that will house the Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC). VMIC is a not-for-profit organisation that will provide the UK’s first vaccine development and manufacturing capability.

The accelerated programme will aim to see the 7,000 m2 facility opening its doors in 2021 instead of 2022 as originally planned.

Ground works began on the site at Harwell Campus in early April and have focused on site clearance, preparing the site for construction and the early order of the steelwork. Glencar expects to see the basebuild ready for early access for fit-out, in late July/early August. Design and fit out are led by WHP Engineering.

Glencar Construction managing director Eddie McGillycuddy said that the accelerated build programme was “an excellent example of all that is good about our industry”.

VMIC chief operating officer Chris Lucas said: “The programme acceleration to allow VMIC to open its doors in 2021, a year ahead of schedule, with the concurrent increase in capability to cater for pandemic response has only been possible by an extraordinary level of cooperation by all concerned.      

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“Working hand in hand with the VMIC organisation in an integrated team, the entire project organisation; from the design and construction contractors, the landlord, specialist consultants and together with support from local and national government; has geared up to the challenge of meeting the revised requirements, focussed on collaboration to deliver this critical resource both in the battle against pandemic viruses and the rejuvenation of the vaccines industry in the UK”

VMIC chief executive Matthew Duchars said: “Whilst no-one could have predicted the Covid-19 outbreak we are doing all we can to fast track the build so VMIC is set-up to offer long-term support to the UK’s future vaccines needs whilst simultaneously contributing right now to the vital work that will help us emerge from this pandemic. 

 “As well as working with the Harwell team and contractors to deliver the build rapidly ahead of schedule, VMIC scientists and engineers are working round the clock as part of the BIA Covid-19 taskforce, and alongside Oxford University advising on manufacturing options of the vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which has recently opened for trial.” 

VMIC was established by University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine with support from industrial partners Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), Johnson & Johnson, and GE Healthcare. Main funding comes through a £65m UK government grant.

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