A research centre which will “revolutionise” the way pharmaceuticals are made has opened at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
It hasn’t got the snappiest title, but the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC) will see UK academics and industrialists collaborate on developing quicker, more effective and more sustainable ways of manufacturing drugs.
The centre is based at Strathclyde but also involves Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Loughborough and Bath universities and is backed with £25 million in government funding and £22.8 million from industry and charity contributions.
Companies which have invested in the centre include GSK, Novartis, AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK.
UK Business Secretary Vince Cable visited CMAC last week, taking the opportunity to talk about the strength of the UK pharmaceutical sector in comments which appeared designed to talk up the benefits of Scotland staying in the UK ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence in September this year.
“One of the strengths of Scottish universities is that world-class science and research is done here, but it is strengthened by the fact that it is part of the UK network and very substantial amounts of funding do come from the UK Government, they also come from the Scottish Government, there is a very strong sense of working together and that’s the way we want to keep it,” Mr Cable said.
Mr Cable added: “As part of the UK, Scotland not only benefits from strong research investment but the rest of the country also benefits from the excellent innovation and entrepreneurial spirit we see in Scottish universities.”
The UK pharmaceutical sector is strong – ranked second only to the US in terms of leading research. According to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry:
The pharmaceutical sector is the UK’s most successful research-based industry
It employs around 68,000 people, of whom 23,000 work in R&D
In 2011, the pharmaceutical sector’s contribution to the balance of trade was the greatest of nine major industrial sectors, up from 5th in 1975 and 3rd in 1990
The sector invests approximately £13.3 million every day in R&D
Health across the globe
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The centre is a leading example of how world-class academics and industrialists can work together for the benefit of the economy and wider society.
“By working together, we can accelerate the development of innovative technology and establish new supply chains for medicines, ultimately improving health for people across the globe.”