Benchmark Holdings, the aquaculture genetics, health and advanced nutrition company, has this morning announced that it has sold its state of the art vaccine manufacturing facility at Braintree, Essex, to the Government backed Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.
The sale is part of BEIS’ £100m investment programme to boost the UK’s capacity to rapidly scale-up manufacturing of a Covid-19 vaccine.
In conjunction with Innovate UK and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the Government initiative will upgrade the existing manufacturing facility to create the fully licensed new centre. Doing so will also increase the UK’s resilience and preparedness to emerging diseases like coronavirus, whilst creating new high-skilled jobs and helping to fuel the UK’s economic recovery.
The new centre is vital to the government’s coronavirus programme to boost capacity to develop and mass produce vaccines. The facility will have the capabilities to rapidly scale-up manufacturing of a Covid-19 vaccine to millions of doses, and gene therapies to treat and prevent disease.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We are taking all necessary steps to ensure we can vaccinate the public as soon as a successful COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
“This new Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre, alongside crucial investment in skills, will support our efforts to rapidly produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine while ensuring the UK can respond quickly to potential future pandemics.”
Peter George, Chairman of Benchmark Holdings, commented: “I am extremely pleased that Benchmark has been able to be part of the UK solution for vaccine manufacturing. We were in the process of evaluating this sector when Covid-19 broke, and following communications with Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government Vaccine Taskforce, and with special thanks to the hard work of Kate Bingham and her team, this is the outcome. I am delighted that we have a long-term solution for the workforce, which has always been our desired outcome. I would like to highlight the Government’s foresight in identifying the possibilities here and moving quickly on this decision.
“I am proud to say that Benchmark is exiting the Covid-19 lockdown period in a stronger financial position than we entered, due to our focus on completing our well developed restructuring programme.”