WHP wins design contract for the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in the UK


Project will see the engineering company design new cGMP suites and filling rooms for the UK's innovative vaccines manufacturing centre in Oxford

Contract covers the design of an array of laboratory and production facilities including the cleanroom architecture, M&E components, and process and critical utilities systems

British engineering company WHP has been awarded a design contract for the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is set for construction in Oxford. The contract will see WHP design an advanced array of laboratory and production facilities within a ‘cleanroom wrap’ environment.

The contract was awarded to WHP as part of plans for the specification of versatile new cGMP suites and filling rooms for the VMIC.

These units will have the capacity to meet the Department of Health and Social Care requirements concerning the provision of vaccines in an infectious disease emergency.

The centre, which has secured £66m of funding from UK Research and Innovation, is being developed through the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing Challenge and is scheduled to open in 2022.

WHP, which has already completed RIBA Plan of Work 2 covering conceptual design, is utilising 3D BIM modelling to finalise the cleanroom architecture, M&E components and process and critical utility systems for a facility that is set to become a national Centre of Excellence.

The project also features complex zoned HVAC systems to maintain segregation, cleanliness, air pressures and other environmental controls, the new laboratory and production facilities will be developed in compliance with MHRA regulations.

Enginering expertise

WHP won the contract on the back of its extensive experience and track record in designing, engineering and constructing complex viral vector and vaccine facilities. This includes an in-house design team with the expertise in working with alliance partners to develop comprehensive process engineered design solutions.

The WHP team working on the VMIC project will be leading the design process through to completion, which has included the selection and appointment of project architects Derell Consultants, as well as managing the complete project design and build package.

David Weir, lead designer on the VMIC project at WHP, said: “VMIC is another major contract success for us. It’s testament to the experience, competence and added value that we bring to multi-million-pound projects across the sector.

“Our process and cleanroom solutions, designed and built to the highest standards, balance health and safety, process demands and energy efficient cleanliness; helping our clients to retain their lead in growing and highly competitive sectors.”

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VMIC will be utilised by the UK authorities to manufacture vaccines rapidly in the event of a pandemic hitting the UK. It will also support rapid global responses to emerging, highly-infectious epidemic pathogens, such as Ebola and Zika, as well as develop new technologies, including the manufacture of personalised cancer vaccines and vectors for gene therapy.