Strathclyde strides ahead in innovative medicines manufacturing

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EPSRC investments are pioneering new ways to develop and make medicines

  • Big pharma firms join forces with the university to unleash a manufacturing revolution
  • Leading-edge skills and facilities provide a springboard for innovation and growth
  • £120 million in investment already attracted to Glasgow and the surrounding region
  • Rapid progress sees the region primed to become a pacesetter in a huge global market    

Long before COVID-19 exploded across the globe, the world of pharmaceuticals was transforming. Medicines’ journey from bench to bedside had to change in response to new pressures and possibilities on the one hand, an ageing population, rising healthcare costs and the increasing importance of environmental sustainability; on the other, exciting opportunities are being developed in western Scotland in personalised medicines and patient-centric healthcare.

Backed by over £16 million of EPSRC investment, the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation (CMAC) and Future Manufacturing Research Hub – have underpinned pioneering new ways to develop and make medicines.

With these foundations in place, further support from UKRI, the Scottish government, local government and charity sources has added extra momentum at vital times. In particular, an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training based at the university that is feeding the talent pipeline of skilled researchers that CMAC, its industry partners and the wider ecosystem depend on.

Already, breakthroughs achieved and enabled by CMAC and its partners are pushing medicine manufacturing towards a new era built, for example, on digital ‘twins’ and on ‘MicroFactories’ that operate continuously without the need to interrupt production. “In a world changed forever by COVID-19, everyone stands to win from flexible, secure, sustainable, cost-effective medicines manufacturing,” said Professor Alastair Florence, now CMAC’s Director. “This region aims to help the UK become the place to make novel medicines in novel ways. Without EPSRC’s support and sponsorship, it simply couldn’t have happened.”

With CMAC’s vision being to revolutionise the way pharmaceuticals and high value products are made, generating new understanding and developing creative solutions to real industry problems is a key focus. Prominent players welcomed the chance to share their insights and influence research priorities, with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and AstraZeneca signing up as founding partners. “We recognised CMAC’s intention to be a place of useful learning and respond to industry needs,” says Jon-Paul Sherlock, AstraZeneca’s Global Technology Strategy Director. “Appointment of an Industry Lead from within industry was another strong message of intent. Our products and processes are already benefitting from CMAC.”

Image: Multi-stage gravitationally fed purifier.