IBioIC CEO Roger Kilburn responds to the announcement of the new Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

I was delighted with the recent announcement of the upcoming £56 million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) at Inchinnan near Glasgow. This is good news for Scotland for many reasons - it demonstrates Government support at both Holyrood and Westminster for advanced drug manufacture, creates high value jobs, and adds to the growing reputation of Inchinnan as a place to demonstrate advance manufacturing alongside the existing Advanced Forming Research Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult as well as the recently announced National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland.

However, most of all it demonstrates the confidence of the pharmaceutical industry, particularly GSK and AstraZeneca, of investing in Scotland’s unique capablilites to deliver the aims and ambitions of this ‘new to world’ centre. Life Sciences Scotland last year published its strategy through to 2025, highlighting that there are over 700 companies active in the sector employing over 37,000 people. However, within this diverse, vibrant, and innovative community, no major pharmaceutical company has a research facility in Scotland. This is all the more remarkable given Scotland’s rich history in medical innovation, which dates back over 400 years, and the world class research capabilites of the Scottish universities.

The pharmaceutical industry is changing the way it innovates; more diverse drugs types, therapies and delivery systems with shorter product lifecycles; new ways for assessing, approving and monitoring medicines; and new modes of delivering healthcare all create manufacturing challenges for the industry. It will need to respond by making drugs available in more forms, quicker and in lower quantities. Today a drug typically takes two years from the start of manufacturing to consumption by a patient. This ‘supply chain’ will need to be telescoped to less than 6 months.

The benefits to pharmaceutical companies are obvious in reduced inventory costs alone. The MMIC is a key asset in achieving these changes, by providing the equipment and a unique space for academics, research scientists and manufacturing partners to work side by side, designing new ways to transition the medicines of the future out of the development stage and into manufacturing reality that will become the future norm. 

By basing the MMIC in Scotland, talented, capable people will be attracted to the area, spin out companies wlll be created to service, support and deliver these new technologies and make it an imperative for large pharmaceutical companies to base research and manufacturing facilities in Scotland - placing it at the forefront of future drug development.

Finally, it creates an opportunity for industrial biotechnology (IB) - converting chemical steps for manufacturing drugs into fewer biological steps can signficiantly reduce the complexity of the manufacturing process and the time to manufacture. The geographical proximity of the MMIC to us at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) will facilitate a close working relationship that will benefit everyone. I am excited to see what we can achieve together.

Roger Kilburn

CEO, IBioIC - Inovo, 121 George Street, Glasgow G1 1RD, United Kingdom
Chair, Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group