The multimodal approach

A recent report from the CRB Group (Horizons 2022 Life Sciences Report) which gathered responses from nearly 500 industry leaders, revealed the challenges facing the life sciences industry and how the industry must keep up with the new rate of discovery.

The report made clear that as part of an increasing emphasis on diversifying, life science companies are moving away from specialising in just one product; in place of one vaccine they are pursuing multiple vaccines, for example. The focus has shifted to much broader, though no less extensive, research and multiple innovative manufacturing techniques, all of which require multiple complex production lines and equipment.

Space Requirements?

What do life sciences companies now need from their space?  The CRB Group report made clear that flexibility is key; flexibility allows manufacturing processes to be altered and increased without the cost and distraction of relocating to another facility.

In response, the United States developers and contractors are increasingly exploring modular construction; it has the advantages of programme and, potentially, cost efficiencies. However, it also has the disadvantage of upfront costs.

The CRB Group report emphasised the benefits of consistency of product and generally a more resilient one. In the UK, a Fujifilm Diosynth plant in County Durham will include 20,000 ft sq of modular clean room space, is this a sign of things to come in the UK market?

What does this mean for Contractors & Developers? 

Modular construction will give a developer the option to expand more easily once the market becomes more certain and can reduce the risk of delay in materials.  While the construction programme can be quicker, the construction costs are not necessarily cheaper and the CRB Group report makes clear that some are yet to be convinced that the upfront costs are worth it. Developers have told us that commissioning is the issue; the pressure range and temperature control cannot be compromised and so commissioning must take place on site.

For contractors it is an opportunity to innovate; the complexity of catering for multiple manufacturing processes means that there is not a one size fits all approach to building new lab space.

It will be interesting to see how the market develops.