New Strategic Partnership for The Pandemic Institute

The Pandemic Institute has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK National Measurement Laboratory at LGC (NML) at
an event held in Liverpool last week.

The partnership will bring the organisations together to work more closely on pandemic preparedness, as well as strengthen industry and academic links in the Liverpool City Region.

NML are the UK’s Designated Institute for chemical and biological measurement and play a leading role in standardisation of measurements across the world so that, for example, a medical test result obtained in London can be compared directly with test results from hospitals in Sydney, Seattle or Shanghai. This was of particular importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, and NML have recently
launched their ’Roadmap to Metrology Readiness for Infectious Disease Pandemic Response’, which identifies priorities and sets out pathways for pandemic preparedness for the measurement community.

Professor Julian Braybrook, UK Government Chemist and Director of NML, presented the roadmap at the event:

“The Roadmap sets out recommendations for specific measurement interventions that could enable a more rapid response and enhance clinical outcomes in a future pandemic. Through these interventions, it aims to provide globally accepted baseline measurements to empower health policy decision makers and give them confidence in the data which guide their interventions.

“We’re excited to be working more closely with The Pandemic Institute and other key stakeholders in the LCR. Liverpool has a long history of driving innovation in infectious disease research, and the city region has recently been designated by the UK Government as a High Potential Opportunity for foreign investment in vaccine development and manufacture.”

With a new northwest base planned in The Spine, Liverpool, The Pandemic Institute is looking forward to working more closely with NML, including the upcoming plans for a PhD studentship working on Lipid Nanoparticles (LNPs), which are small particles used for the delivery of some drugs or vaccines.

Professor Neill Liptrott, Chair in Pharmacology & Immunocompatibility Pharmacology & Therapeutics at the University of Liverpool, said:

“As part of our existing long-term plan with NML we are excited to collaborate on this PhD studentship, which aims to establish critical parameters of LNP formulations for vaccines and nucleic acid therapeutics and representative materials to support developers of LNP therapeutics. Working with NML since 2019, our partnership has gone from strength to strength, with joint academic posts between the University of Liverpool and NML and current plans to establish metrology within the Centre of Excellence for Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT Global Health).  Partnerships like this are critical to ensure that metrology and measurement science underpins the exciting biological work that we and others do, providing our work's robustness and transferability.”

Dr Ray Kent, Chief Operating Officer at The Pandemic Institute, added:

“One of The Pandemic Institute’s major strengths is bringing together key organisations in pandemic preparedness and response, to ensure we are never as unprepared again as we were in 2019. We are delighted to be signing this MoU with NML and welcoming them to Liverpool, and we’re looking forward to combining our future efforts.”

For more information on UK National Measurement Laboratory at LGC (NML), click here.

Future Innovators Programme among first IZ projects set for approval

KQ Liverpool’s Future Innovators Programme is among the first seven Liverpool City Region Innovation Zone projects set for approval. 

Innovation Zone funding of £26.5m is being sought to support the seven projects, which will cost nearly £83m in total. 

They are among 21 projects being developed in the first phase of the 10-year, £160m Life Sciences Investment Zone programme, referred to locally as the Innovation Zone, that’s forecast to create £8,000 jobs and stimulate up to £800m of public and private investment, in addition to AstraZeneca’s £450m investment in its Speke vaccine facility announced in March. 

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will consider the seven projects at its meeting on June 7, with final approvals to follow in the coming weeks and months after further scrutiny. 

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

From the moment I was elected Mayor, it has been one of my priorities to cement our reputation as an attractive environment for businesses to invest. 

“We are already home to world leading clusters in life sciences, gaming, advanced computing, and infectious disease control – but I am never content with resting on our laurels. That is why we will invest 5% of local GVA in R&D by the end of the decade, nearly double the national target.

“I truly believe that innovation will be the fuel that powers our economy forward and by establishing ourselves as a hotbed of innovation and new technology, we will be ready to attract many more highly skilled, well-paid jobs, businesses and opportunities from around the world.” 

The first seven projects set for approval are: 

    • KQ Liverpool Future Innovators Programme: Led by Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, the programme will aim to raise awareness and aspiration for careers in life sciences and will work with local employers to develop traineeships and opportunities for young people. 
    • Embedded Skills Development Programme: Delivered by St Helens-based surgical simulator creator Inovus, the programme will facilitate 250 practical, skilled work experience placements for young people within health and life sciences over 5 years. It will replace the traditional two-week work experience by embedding 16-18-year-olds within businesses over 4-6 months. The aim is to expand the pilot across all city region boroughs through a network of host businesses to offer around 600 placements in the first five years. 
    • Health Tech Business Incubator: Led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the programme will work to drive innovation and commercialisation of research in the city region’s health and life sciences sector. Start up and early-stage businesses will be offered support including grant funding, support, training and access to Sci-Tech Daresbury’s world-class facilities. The four-year programme is expected to support 30 businesses. 
    • iiCON Phase 3: Led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, iiCON (Infection Innovation Consortium) has grown into a £260m programme, delivering 36 new products to market since its creation in 2020. Phase 3 will deliver a new containment level 3 laboratory equipped with robotics and AI for the safe handling of pathogens. The new facility is forecast to support a 10-fold increase in the value and volume of activities, driving forward development of new treatments. iiCON is seeking £10m Innovation Zone funding with additional grant funding from the Wolfson Foundation and RED/UKRI. 
    • Microbiome and Infectious Disease Innovation Hub: Led by the University of Liverpool in partnership with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the hub will become a UK leader supporting industry to develop and commercialise microbiome and infectious disease innovations and therapies. This will drive forward preventative medicines and alternatives to antibiotics, helping address antimicrobial resistance. 
    • Pharmaceutical Services – Upstream Monoclonal Antibody Capabilities: TriRx is seeking £2m towards a £12m programme to install enhanced manufacturing facilities at its Speke site. The equipment is expected to increase productivity by 25% and satisfy global demand for monoclonal antibody drugs. The equipment will also contribute to R&D by city region research institutions. 
    • Sci-Tech Daresbury Violet Phase 2: £9.5m is being sought for a £24m project to build 90,000 sqft of containment level 2 ‘grow on’ laboratory and office space, addressing a local and national shortage. Two new buildings will be constructed which are expected to attract high-growth and established tenants resulting in at least 300 new jobs, with around 70-75% at degree-level or equivalent.