The Government-funded site located on the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus (around 30 miles north of London), will be capable of making late-phase and commercial cell therapies to support UK SME biotech and life science companies and according to The Cell Therapy Catapult (CTC) – an organisation managing the scheme – will generate £1.2bn of revenue by 2020.
Already supporting the project is life sciences company GE Healthcare, which provided its cell analysis and culture technologies to CTC’s pilot laboratories at Guy’s Hospital, London when it opened in June, but GE is looking to be further involved in the Stevenage plant, expected to open in 2017.
“GE will look to support and collaborate with the CTC as it works to bring the new manufacturing centre online,” GE spokeman Conor McKechnie told Biopharma-Reporter.com, adding the firm would use its “expertise in bioprocessing industrialisation and process development,” to further aid the facility.
McKechnie was also optimistic GE would play a part once the facility is up and running. “Subject to the appropriate tendering processes, GE would hope to also supply technology, of course.”
The need for a cell therapy centre was established in 2013 by the CTC, which found in its survey of Good Manufacturing Practice manufacturing and supply chain were barriers in translating R&D, an area where the UK has traditionally been strongly positioned, into commercially viable products
Therefore the CTC hopes to challenge the problems of scale-up and subsequent distribution of cell therapies through this “open innovation campus” in Stevenage, allowing smaller firms to access shared platforms.
With this in mind, we asked McKechnie whether such openness would put off biopharma firms due to the industry’s notoriously secretive production procedures.
“GE’s view is that there is a need for unprecedented level of multi-stakeholder cooperation and collaboration in bringing cell therapies to clinical and commercial reality,” he told us.
“An open campus approach will help companies share and overcome common industry challenges, work towards common industry solutions, and this will help enable standardisation in the field. This will improve and support commercial and clinical uptake of these therapies.”