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Life Sciences and Vaccines

Volume 678: debated on Tuesday 21 July 2020

What steps his Department is taking to support (a) vaccine manufacturing and (b) UK life sciences. (905071)

The Government are investing £93 million to set up the UK’s first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre in Harwell. We are also investing £38 million in a rapid deployment facility, which will allow vaccine manufacturing at scale to commence from later this year.

The Government have stated that they are interested in creating a sovereign manufacturing capability in the north. An opportunity exists in Ulverston in my constituency to build a bioscience cluster, with deep collaboration with local universities. Using this site for therapeutic vaccine manufacturing would enable partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, which is already based in Furness, and it would preserve and create local jobs and skills, and be a great result for the north and the UK as a whole. Would my right hon. Friend meet the key partners to this project to see whether we might be able to take it forward?

I want to confirm that the Government of course continue to consider the options to ensure that we have sufficient vaccine manufacturing capacity in the UK. I will ask the vaccine taskforce to follow up on that issue with my hon. Friend.

For many of my constituents who work in Greater Manchester life sciences and in the Cheshire life sciences corridor, the Government’s drive to increase research and development into vaccines is really important. Recognising the importance of this to our local economy, what are the Government doing to increase and develop the strengths of life sciences in the Greater Manchester area?

I can confirm to my hon. Friend that, of course, the Government strongly support the growth of the life sciences sector in the north-west, which employs about 26,000 people. We have made a significant strategic investment in the Medicines Discovery Catapult at Alderley Edge to boost R&D.