The UK’s Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGTC) awarded the manufacturing contract to Merit for the expansion of its Stevenage, which previously completed work to double the production capacity of the site.
As in the previous expansion, Merit will carry out the expansion via the construction of pre-assembled modules that allows 90% of the work to be carried out off-site, the construction company suggested.
The work will entail the construction of seven pre-assembled analytical quality control laboratories. As a result of the modules being assembled off-site, Merit noted that the research and manufacturing activities at the Stevenage facility would not be disrupted.
Keith Thompson, CEO of CGTC, said, “Merit provided diligent support and ensured minimal disruption during the building of our expansion phase at the center, and this is crucial to maintaining [an operational] facility for us and our collaborating companies [to] manufacture therapies, in an operational GMP compliant state.”
The CGTC is utilized by smaller scale companies to establish their manufacturing capabilities and systems for large scale production, potentially at commercial scale, of cell and gene therapies. The center has attracted such companies as Adaptimmune and Autolus, as well as seeing US-based TCR2 Therapeutics decide to base its own manufacturing in the UK.
The current expansion is part of the ‘third phase’ for the manufacturing center, which has been backed by £75m ($88m) in funds from various sources, including the UK government that has set its sights on supporting the growing advanced therapeutic segment.
Last year, the UK government created a fund to those companies that are developing technologies to aid in the commercial production of advanced therapeutics, as employment numbers in the manufacturing sector for such therapies soared by 30%.
Aside from government initiatives, venture capital firms are also taking an increasing interest in UK-based biotechs, with funding increasing by 40% year-on-year.