UK vaccines centre build fast-tracked

Construction work has begun ahead of schedule to build a facility which will house the UK’s first bespoke strategic vaccine development and manufacturing capability.

UK vaccines centre build fast-tracked

Main contractor Glencar Construction is now on-site to deliver the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

A rapidly accelerated programme will aim to see the 7,000 m2 (75,000 sq ft - footprint) state-of-the-art facility opening its doors in 2021, ahead of the originally scheduled date in 2022.

An unprecedented collaborative effort between the VMIC, Harwell Campus, Vale of the White Horse District Council, UK Research and Innovation and Glencar has accelerated the construction of this complex build in order to bring the facility on line early so that it can provide an emergency response capability for the UK.

Groundworks began on the site at Harwell Campus in early April and have focused on site clearance, preparing the site for construction and the early order of the steelwork. Glencar said it expects to see the base build ready for early access for fit-out, in late July/early August. Design and fit-out are underway and led by WHP Engineering.

Dr Matthew Duchars, chief executive of the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, said: “Whilst no-one could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak we are doing all we can to fast track the build so VMIC is set-up to offer long-term support to the UK’s future vaccines needs whilst simultaneously contributing right now to the vital work that will help us emerge from this pandemic.

“As well as working with the Harwell team and contractors to deliver the build rapidly ahead of schedule, VMIC scientists and engineers are working round the clock as part of the BIA COVID-19 Taskforce, and alongside Oxford University advising on manufacturing options of the vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which has recently opened for trial.”

Cliff Dare, chief operating officer of Harwell Campus management team and development manager for the VMIC build, said: “This is an unprecedented time and one that calls for collaboration across many fields and sectors. We are working closely with Matthew and his team,
national and local government, and Glencar the main contractor involved on this complex development. It is essential that we continue to fast track this project of national importance, bringing the facility into operation as quickly as possible.

“This is not a straightforward build and fit-out; it is a complex advanced centre of technology and that throws up its own particular challenges. One way we are addressing this is by looking at novel strategies for developing fit-out/technologies, including off-site manufacture that will sit within the building to be developed alongside groundworks.”

Eddie McGillycuddy, managing director of Glencar Construction, said: “Glencar is pleased to collaborate with VMIC, Harwell, The Vale of White Horse Council and other stakeholders to deliver this critical project. We have made an accelerated start and reduced our construction programme with the support of our partners, making this project an excellent example of all that is good about our industry.”

Chris Lucas, chief operating officer at VMIC, added: “The programme acceleration to allow VMIC to open its doors in 2021, a year ahead of schedule, with the concurrent increase in capability to cater for pandemic response has only been possible by an extraordinary level of cooperation by all concerned.

“Working hand in hand with the VMIC organisation in an integrated team, the entire project organisation; from the design and construction contractors, the landlord, specialist consultants and together with support from local and national government; has geared up to the challenge of meeting the revised requirements, focussed on collaboration to deliver this critical resource both in the battle against pandemic viruses and the rejuvenation of the vaccines industry in the UK.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

Share icon
Share this article: