The director of the National Horizons Centre, a £22.3m national center of excellence for the bioscience industries, says a new U.K. biomanufacturing plant should be built in the north of England to bring vital investment and skills to the region. Jen Vanderhoven, PhD, believes the north is the ideal location for a new plant.

Vanderhoven, a former vice president of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, adds that building the plant in the north would also fit with the government’s “Levelling-Up” agenda.

“I would love to see a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the north. It’s not just that it would bring 250 to 300 highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs to the region with salaries two or three times the national average,” she says. “It’s also because the north does biopharmaceutical manufacturing really well. It has the skilled workforce, the history of manufacturing, and it would make economic sense as it would be cheaper to manufacture in the north.

“Areas such as Cumbria and the Tees Valley have key skills and knowledge embedded in their workforce through their historic links with major multinationals such as GSK and ICI…the National Horizons Centre [which is part of Teesside University] is in a position to work with partners from across the U.K. and beyond. However, it would be fantastic to see a plant like this in a northern location.”

With its base in Darlington, with access to rail and road links, the Centre is “right at the heart of the north and in a perfect location to provide the skills and training needs to provide the skills and training to a biomanufacturing plant.”

Vanderhoven was previously the manager of a Government-funded Industrial Biotechnology Network where she worked with more than 150 bioscience companies and academics across the U.K. to help co-author the U.K. National Industrial Biotechnology Strategy to 2030.

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