Mayor Welcomes £10.65Million Government Investment For Darlington Vaccine Site

Tees Valley Combined Authority | Published on: 7th October 2022

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (07 October) welcomed a £10.65million cash injection for Darlington’s Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) that will see it become an mRNA vaccine innovation centre.

mRNA technology, the vaccine innovation used against COVID-19, is currently under development for the treatment of various cancers, flu vaccines and personalised medicines including gene therapy.

Now Government’s Vaccine Taskforce has granted the funding – to be administered by Innovate UK – to support the launch of the CPI’s new Centre of Excellence, producing RNA material for clinical trials which will be crucial to future vaccine development. The organisation is a key player in the region’s Life Sciences and Biopharma sectors, based at the town’s Central Park alongside other such as the National Horizons Centre.

CPI’s RNA Centre of Excellence is the only site in the UK currently able to develop and manufacture messenger and self-amplifying RNA vaccines and therapies and has the capability to manufacture millions of doses of a vaccine, if required for a future healthcare emergency.

It will provide state-of-the art equipment and world-leading expertise to support industry with the testing, scale-up and clinical production of RNA technologies – showcasing the UK’s capability in this area and helping to promote the UK as an attractive destination for further investment.

As part of the centre, CPI has also established the National Training Academy for RNA Therapeutics and Vaccines Manufacture, ensuring that companies can access the industry skills they require in the UK, providing interactive courses in RNA technology alongside bespoke training at client facilities. The academy has already gained continuing professional development accreditation.

Mayor Houchen said: “CPI is a fantastic example of a local organisation at the cutting-edge of biosciences and its new Centre of Excellence will be another string to the bow of the growing cluster on Darlington’s Central Park and our world-leading life sciences sector.

“This latest boost comes on the back of the amazing work of the sector in the fight against coronavirus. This funding will help our scientists make even more leaps forward and breakthroughs, having a huge impact on lives across the UK and beyond. Funding of our research centres, labs and manufacturing space will help create high-quality, highly skilled and well-paid jobs in the innovative industries of the future for local people.

“While we’re seeing difficulties across the globe which are making times tough for many, our region continues to move forward and make huge progress thanks to investments like these – meaning the long-term future of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is bright.”

Science Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “The UK’s exceptional capabilities in Life Sciences were showcased on the world stage when we became the first nation globally to approve a working COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic.

“We are now committed to boosting these capabilities even further, ensuring we are thoroughly prepared for future health emergencies and remaining at the forefront of the development of new therapies. This is why we are so pleased to be making this significant investment in CPI’s brilliant RNA facility in Darlington, a site with the potential to make enormous homegrown breakthroughs in the fight against disease.”

The Vaccine Taskforce previously supported the construction and development of CPI’s centre with funding of £26.48million. The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority also awarded £4million in funding to help CPI’s extend and refurbish its capabilities at its Head Office at the Wilton Centre, Redcar.

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