Transcript for Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - Interview with Professor Alistair Florence

I’m Alistair Florence.  I’m the Director for the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing and Continuous Manufacturing Crystallisation (CMAC) at the University of Strathclyde. 

Continuous manufacturing gives us an opportunity to improve the way that we manufacture medicines and other high value chemical products.  It allows us to exert a greater degree of control over the quality and attributes of the materials that we’re producing compared with traditional technologies, batch manufacturing approaches.  So while continuous is well established in some industries, commodity chemicals, oil and gas, the ability to deal with the smaller volumes that may be required in pharmaceuticals, presents a number of challenges and so the work within the centre is around understanding how we can synthesize molecules, particularly how we can then isolate and purify them as crystals, but control the properties of those crystals so that we can streamline the overall final manufacture of the dosage form, using subsequent continuous operations.

Molecules don’t know what their intended application is.  Whilst the majority of our sponsors are in the pharmaceutical industry, we have also done work with other chemical manufacturers - agrochemicals, dyes and pigments and magnetic materials.  So we have done a project, again a proprietary project with one company, but in understanding and developing the process, understanding in order to design a continuous process, they were able to take that better understanding of the process and use that to improve their commercial batch operation.  One of the things that CMAC offers, is that centre of excellence, the critical mass of academic expertise around analysis modelling, control and characterisation measurement of crystallisation processes, so there is a broad range of potential applications.

CMAC has seen phenomenal growth.  We started off on the back of a £6 million grant from EPSRC to establish a centre for innovative manufacturing.  In the last four years it has essentially attracted the portfolio of over £80 million of funding.  The real highlights are the research outputs, the new understanding crystallisation, the talent pipeline, the human capital, the skilled researchers, the future leaders in this area, they are already going out and working across industry and academia and of course the new facility that we are moving into, thanks to a £34 million RPIF award, that creates a real national facility for people, part of CMAC, other academics, industry to come and work on these common challenges together and accelerating progress as we move forward.