The University of Delaware broke ground on construction of the SABRE Center, a pilot scale biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility that will sit next to the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), which is housed in UD’s Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center. The SABRE Center will complement the biopharmaceutical research and development activities of NIIMBL and the larger biopharmaceutical industry in Delaware and the broader region, according to UD officials.

The project is supported with federal and state funding and aligns with the State of Delaware’s priority of economic growth in the biopharmaceutical industry, and the larger life sciences sector. Together, SABRE and NIIMBL will provide Delaware with a position in the region of having resources to support research and development, pilot scale production, and workforce training.

While still in the design phase, the SABRE Center is envisioned as a place to scale up and mature manufacturing innovations and technologies that are essential to ensuring broad access to novel biopharmaceutical medicines, explained a UD officials who added that it also is viewed as a place to design, develop, and disseminate best practices and workforce training programs for people who want to develop the skills necessary to work in a biomanufacturing environment.

“I personally believe that the SABRE Center is going to mark an inflection point in our national competitiveness in this advanced manufacturing industry and to our resilience in the face of future public health threats,” said Kelvin Lee, UD interim vice president for research, scholarship, and innovation and NIIMBL director, in opening remarks. “I also believe that the SABRE Center marks our local region’s journey moving from having a strong biotech community to ultimately being recognized as a home to a vibrant industrial ecosystem.”

cGMP environment

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) pointed to the SABRE Center’s planned 70,000 ft2 of research space (designed as a cGMP environment) and modern technology that will one day train Delaware workers in manufacturing biopharmaceuticals.

“This is about turning vision into reality for our health, our economy and our future,” continued Blunt Rochester. “It’s about safety and effectiveness. It is about the jobs of today and the jobs of the future. It’s about strengthening our supply chains.”

The need to create more domestic capacity for manufacturing is a reality that came into sharp focus during the coronavirus pandemic, she noted. Bringing lifesaving technologies and products to market is challenging. It requires infrastructure, investment, and intentionality. Collaboration is key. These activities can be bolstered by marrying academia with the private and public sectors, according to Blunt Rochester.

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