PRR_3206The UK medicines manufacturing industry – including biologics – is one of our leading manufacturing sectors, and continues to flourish as the global demand for biologics rises year on year. Last week over 300 delegates gathered in Liverpool to hear about the latest developments in the burgeoning bioprocessing industry, at the 11th Annual bioProcessUK Conference.

The theme of this year’s conference, ‘An Integrated Approach to Medicines Manufacturing’, was reflected across a number of presentations over the two days, with speakers showcasing the importance of cross-sector collaborations and the impact of new technologies in this key industry.

The influence of new technologies on the sector was highlighted in the BioProNET workshop on synthetic biology, where the panel explored the implications of this emerging field – selected as one of the government’s eight great technologies – for bioprocessing. The theme was also echoed by this year’s recipient of the Peter Dunnill Award, Dr Malcolm Rhodes, as he described the domino effect novel technologies can have in terms of the formation of companies and, in turn, further growth for the industry.

Despite the recognised strength of the UK bioprocessing industry, there is a push to further accelerate the sector and to establish the UK as a world leader, not just in bioprocessing, but across medicines manufacturing as a whole.

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Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership workshop panel

The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) was the focus of a second workshop at the conference. James Christie, newly announced Project Director of the MMIP, repeatedly highlighted the importance of a unified approach to the partnership, with involvement from all areas of medicines manufacturing, to strive towards the common goal of creating an attractive and innovation-driven environment in the UK for the production of medicines.

He emphasised that the UK already has a number of qualities and initiatives in place which create an attractive landscape for the sector. As such, the major priority of the partnership is not to create new entities but rather to embed the present structure by supporting existing operations and their expansion, encouraging new investments and driving initiatives aimed at improving national capability and the global perception of the UK.

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Dr Stephen Ward, COO, Cell Therapy Catapult

The importance of integration was also recognised by Dr Stephen Ward, Chief Operating Officer, Cell Therapy Catapult, during day two’s session on Cell Therapy Industrialisation. As the cell therapy sector moves from discovery science to manufacturing science, Stephen described the need for ‘cross-pollination’ across the various sectors, in order to face some of the challenges posed by bio-medicinal manufacturing. He noted the great importance of manufacturing to the creation of a sustainable cell therapy industry. This can be seen through the work of the Cell Therapy Catapult, which supports companies to bring cell therapies from early stage research through to market.

The UK cell therapy industry has huge potential, and investments from government, through initiatives such as the Cell Therapy Catapult, have allowed the sector to progress from a strong R&D base to the manufacture of commercial stage products, enabling the UK to become a landing pad in Europe for cell therapy. As noted by Dr Ohad Karnieli, Vice President Development and Manufacturing at Israeli company Pluristem, the progress over the last few years has been huge.

The rapid progress of the industry was also the focus of the Peter Dunnill lecture from Dr Malcolm Rhodes, who noted that recent government support has been instrumental in the rise of the UK bioprocessing sector. He described the transformation of the landscape, catalysed by collaboration between industry and government and support schemes such as the Cell Therapy Catapult, Biomedical Catalyst and the Centre for Process Innovation’s National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult). We are lucky to be in a period of continuous growth, as new companies develop from new technologies and the UK bioprocessing industry goes from strength to strength.

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Dr Malcolm Rhodes receives this year’s Peter Dunhill Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Bioprocessing from Professor John Birch

To see a selection of photos from the event, click here.