Moderna, a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, has selected Harwell Campus, as the location for its Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC).
The MITC development will encompass a research, development and manufacturing facility, providing the UK public with access to cutting-edge mRNA vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, pending regulatory assessment and licensure.
The MITC will also include a clinical biomarker laboratory, a prefabricated modular laboratory constructed in Northumberland which will then be installed on the campus.
Construction will begin this year, with the facility expected to become operational in 2025, subject to planning and regulatory approvals.
The investment will create hundreds of jobs across Oxfordshire and the UK and will cement Harwell Campus as a national health tech hub for the pioneering research and development of mRNA and other nucleic acid therapeutics.
Darius Hughes, UK General Manager at Moderna, said: “We are delighted to reach this important milestone with Harwell and our lab build partners, Merit. We look forward to joining the Harwell Campus health tech cluster and contributing to the UK’s science and innovation community through investments in R&D. When constructed, our facility at Harwell will harness mRNA science to develop and deliver tailored, innovative vaccines to the UK public that address particular threats from respiratory viruses facing our population.”
Stuart Grant, Chief Executive of Harwell Campus said: “mRNA technology has the capability to transform how we treat a variety of diseases and enhance UK resilience against future pandemics. I’m delighted to welcome Moderna to Harwell Campus, and our thriving health tech cluster. We’re entering a new era of medicine so it’s important that we deliver and build cutting edge facilities to reflect this and spaces that promote innovation and encourage collaboration.”
A national health tech hub for pioneering research and development of mRNA and nucleic acid therapeutics:
Moderna is the latest organisation to join Harwell’s thriving Health Tech cluster which has grown to over 70 life science organisations since it launched in 2016.
Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director of Innovation Clusters and Harwell Campus at UKRI-STFC, said: “The Harwell Health Tech cluster’s multidisciplinary ecosystem allows researchers and industry professionals to easily share expertise and skills, creating impactful innovation across the entire life sciences sector. From accelerating the discovery and development of new vaccines and advanced medicines, to leading the way with next generation imaging technologies and diagnostics, the cluster is enabling ground-breaking progress against global health challenges.”
The campus’ unique combination of expertise in the development of vaccines and mRNA technologies includes Europe’s largest collection of open access, publicly funded scientific facilities, such as The Rosalind Franklin Institute and the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator and commercial organisations including: Catalent, Vaccitech, NeoVac and Nanovation Therapeutics.
Professor James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: “Oxfordshire’s nucleic acid therapy ecosystem is booming and Moderna’s investment at Harwell is testament to the quality of research and innovation we have here. These technologies have the potential to make a huge impact on human health and locating world-leading commercial companies alongside research institutes like the Rosalind Franklin Institute will catalyse new opportunities to collaborate and make faster progress.”
Harwell – A Life Science Opportunity Zone:
In 2020, Harwell Campus was designated one of only seven Life Sciences Opportunity Zones (LSOZ) in the UK.
Dr Adrian Hill, Health Tech Cluster Manager at Harwell added: “Our LSOZ status helps attract investment into the sector from organisations like Moderna. Together with the cross-disciplinary knowledge, breadth and depth of skills that exist at Harwell the health tech cluster is perfectly placed to accelerate research and validate technology to meet the evolving global health challenges that we face.”
Increasing available lab space:
Moderna’s new MITC will be made up of two buildings totalling 145,000 sq. ft. It is the next development to start at Harwell and is in addition to the three million sq. ft of development already planned at the campus.
The next phase of growth is aimed at reducing the chronic shortage of lab space available across Oxfordshire and will see a combination of lab, office, and R&D buildings being built including the new Zeta building a 21,000sq ft ‘mid-tech’ development.