Drugs innovation centre looks to tap into £100bn global market

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A £56 million innovation centre that promises to revolutionise how medicines are manufactured and which has the backing of two industry giants is to be located in Renfrewshire.

The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC), which is being supported by both GSK and AstraZeneca, alongside Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Innovate UK, aims to create 80 jobs by 2023, with a further 90 created or retained during design and construction.

The facility will offer pharma companies, from start-ups to multinationals, the capability to develop and adopt new manufacturing techniques. By transforming processes and technologies, the speed of bringing new drugs to market could improve “drastically”, its backers believe.

The new centre will be positioned next to the £65m National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) at Inchinnan.

However, the leader of North Ayrshire Council criticised the process that saw Irvine rejected as host of the MMIC, pointing to “compelling” socio-economic reasons for choosing the town instead.

Councillor Joe Cullinane said: “We are all extremely frustrated with this decision. We have been working for over three years to secure this investment and, with our Urban Regeneration Company, had invested £10m in site infrastructure to make it ready for new investment such as MMIC and other manufacturing and life science companies that would want to locate next to and access MMIC facilities.”

The MMIC aims to attract more than £80m of research and development investment by 2028 and capture a bigger slice of a global market worth almost £100 billion.

Supported by SE to the tune of £15m, UK Research and Innovation, through Innovate UK, by £13m, and GSK and AstraZeneca (£7m each), the MMIC is one of the early projects across the UK to receive funding from the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Linda Hanna, managing director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “There is no other facility like this in the world and is a fantastic endorsement of Scotland as an ideal place to invest in global excellence in high-value manufacturing, drawing on our skills, innovative companies and academic expertise.

“Industry leadership and co-investment has been central to shaping this centre and will remain at the heart of what makes it a success, providing a platform for companies right across the UK to collaborate, innovate and develop world-leading medicine manufacturing processes and technologies.”

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The location of the MMIC is a very positive endorsement of Scotland’s life and chemical science sectors and will build on our internationally recognised strengths in both R&D and manufacturing.”