The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), a not-for-profit organisation providing the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability, has appointed 50 people into new roles – growing the VMIC team from 10 to 60, since May 2020. The rapid recruitment is part of an ambitious programme of work that aims to ensure VMIC is ready to open in 2021, a year ahead of schedule, and also ready to manufacture vaccine for COVID-19, should a viable candidate prove successful.

A vital part of this latest recruitment phase is the appointment of 10 Biotechnologists which will ensure there is a highly skilled team ready to manufacture a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate, once approved, when the VMIC facility is operationally ready.

The specialist biotech team will undertake an intensive training programme delivered by Oxford Biomedica as part of a collaboration signed in June. The training will take place at Oxford Biomedica’s commercial manufacturing centre Oxbox, where VMIC’s vaccine manufacturing equipment is currently situated in two newly approved GMP suites, which form ‘Virtual VMIC’. The training programme will focus on GMP operations of viral vector vaccines in order to enable VMIC to immediately start running a manufacturing process in this specialist area when the permanent facility opens.

Dr Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive, The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, said: “We’ve had to grow rapidly as an organisation, responding to the needs of the nation now and also in the future. The new people joining us will be protecting lives in years to come with the delivery of new and novel vaccines.

“Strengthening the UK’s vaccines community is core to our mission and this is our first step on that journey.

“My thanks go to our business support and HR teams, and our recruitment partners, who have had to evolve traditional recruitment processes in order to find us these brilliant people during this highly challenging time.”

Andrew Phelan, Biotechnologist, Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre said: “I am truly very proud and excited to have joined the VMIC team. I believe we all have a role to play in helping to bring life back to something close to normal, and embarking on this training programme is the first step on that journey for me.

John Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Biomedica, said: “We are delighted that we can share our expertise in GMP manufacturing with these 10 new VMIC recruits and support VMIC’s broader goal of accelerating and supporting UK manufacturing capacity and capabilities for vaccines more generally.”

The 50 newly appointed roles across VMIC range from manufacturing, quality assurance and quality control, to business support, finance and human resources. Up to 30 further roles will open between now and Q1 2021. These roles will span multiple functions including quality assurance, facilities and engineering, and business development.