Moderna makes multi-million pound investment in the North East to build biomarker lab for new UK Manufacturing and Innovation Technology Centre

Moderna’s partnership with offsite construction specialists, Merit, will see the biotech company’s state-of-the-art biomarker lab designed and constructed in Cramlington, Northumberland before being transported to its home in Harwell, Oxfordshire.


Winning the contract to design and build the new biomarker lab, has driven Merit’s 44,000sqft factory expansion bringing 50 additional jobs as well as a further 20 apprenticeship opportunities starting in September through the Merit apprenticeship programme.


Not only is Merit committed to investing in home grown talent, but it is also proud of its North East 20-year embedded supply chain and Buy British policy. Collaborating with local education providers and suppliers and embedding them within the design process ensures quality, meets supply and demand, provides local employment opportunities and is essential for delivering facilities, like Moderna’s Innovation and Technology Centre, at speed.


The factory recently played host to a visit from Blyth Valley MP, Ian Levy, Councillor Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Medical Sciences), Newcastle University, Emma Barron, Business Development Manager, Northumbria University and Janine Marshall, Head of Education and Skills, North East STEM Centre enabling them to see for themselves the construction of the biomarker lab. They were able to view the build of the PODs and pre-assembled modules (PAMs) that form Merit’s product-based solution UltraPOD®+ that will be delivered to site to form the state-of-the-art building.


The factory visit was followed by a roundtable discussion about the potential of the North East for life sciences, including the platform that has already been established and how delegates can support the drive toward further regional economic growth, as well as a discussion of the key challenges facing the region and how these can be addressed.


Tony Wells, CEO of Merit, said: “It was a pleasure to host the visit and show the biomarker lab build in action within our new factory extension purpose built for this project. Moderna has bought into our innovative, technology led, product-based approach to building technically complex facilities and it is great to see two proactive and innovative companies partnering together to make a difference to the availability of vaccines for the UK public.”


Ian Levy, MP for Blyth Valley said: “It’s exciting to see the work being done on the new biomarker lab, its not just about life sciences though but also about the local people, and the opportunities a local company such as Merit can offer. It is giving younger people the chance to be inspired, to be developed and that makes a massive difference.”


Darius Hughes, UK General Manager at Moderna, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Merit to construct this state-of-the-art clinical biomarker laboratory that will become the R&D hub of the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre. Biomarkers are vital for the drug development process, and as such, the new laboratory will play a critical role in bringing new vaccines and therapeutics to the UK public. It will house the latest equipment and world-class scientific experts, and our ambition is to become a leading partner within the UK biomarker community.


Professor Dame Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said: “UKHSA is working actively with a range of pharmaceutical companies and is proud to be leading the Moderna-UK Strategic Partnership on behalf of the government. The aim of the 10-year partnership is to bring mRNA vaccine manufacturing and exciting research and development opportunities to the UK, ensuring we are well prepared for future health emergencies. And, of course, it also provides significant benefits to local communities.

“Once the laboratory is up and running, it will house the most cutting-edge technology to develop new mRNA vaccines and therapeutics which, subject to all appropriate governance and effectiveness assessments, the NHS will have priority access to.”