Design and build of Moderna’s new £25m Biomarker Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire.


Design and build of Moderna’s new £25m Biomarker Laboratory as part of its Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC) in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

  • UltraPOD®+ solution.
  • BioSafety Level 2 and 3 facilities (BSL2 and BSL3).
  • Up to 95% of the project will be completed offsite.
  • Dedicated plant above the BSL3 laboratory to ensure complete separation from other activities within the main facility.

Merit is currently designing and building the £25m Biomarker Laboratory that will become the R&D hub of the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC) at Harwell, Oxfordshire. The Biomarker Lab will be the first Moderna facility in the UK and will support the growth of clinical development throughout the country.

Moderna is a US based company who focus on creating a new generation of transformative medicines for patients. With its breakthrough platform, Moderna is creating mRNA medicines for a wide range of diseases and conditions, in many cases addressing the currently undruggable targets or underserved areas of medical need.

This project marks a major milestone for Merit, as it will be the first time it implements its new UltraPOD+ product-based solution, a fully offsite manufactured platform design with integrated architecture and services, enabling project delivery time to be halved.

The importance of this new modern facility cannot be understated, playing a key role in the UK’s resilience to meet the threat of future pandemics, providing the country with access to cutting-edge messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine research used to fight COVID-19.

The vast majority of the work associated with this project will be carried out at the Merit factories in Northumberland. The offsite components of the build will then be shipped to site, ready to be craned into positions and bolted together by our expert installation teams. The building delivers the same quality look and feel as a traditional build, configured in a shape that allows the client to increase or decrease the size of their facility in line with demand.

Utilising advanced 4D BIM modelling technology and offsite manufacturing techniques, Merit’s team will be delivering this modern facility through its UltraPOD®+ product-based solution. UltraPOD® is Merit’s expandable full building solution and can be used as a standalone building or multiple UltraPODs can be configured together to create a larger building. UltraPOD®+ offers the same concept with increased ceiling height, allowing for M&E services to be fitted into the ceilings above the rooms. UltraPOD®+ is based around a standard ‘platform’ design for Manufacture & Assembly and has proven to meet MHRA and FDA regulatory requirements.

Merit’s team assessed the layout requirements for the Moderna facility and adapted these into a 1:200 layout configuration to suit the additional requirement of the QBioA laboratory, the BSL3 laboratory and the URS provided.

The ground floor of the facility will be suitable for BSL2 and BSL3 laboratories and the first floor will be suitable for BSL2 laboratories. The shared space of the building has been centrally located, providing access to either the QBioA or Biomarker Laboratory zones. The first-floor area will comprise two sets of five laboratories, a gowning room and a small lab OPS support office. Additionally, the first floor houses all plant rooms to serve the facility.

Merit commenced a PCSA with Moderna in September 2022. We set up design workshops with the client and key stakeholders twice weekly, with each workshop focussing on a different design discipline. The configuration of the 1:200 layout is of critical importance during the initial phase of the project. Merit has in-house expert architects as well as in-house ATMP Qualified Person capacity to engage and support Moderna with layout and regulatory advice when configuring the internal architecture.