Ensuring secure, reliable and affordable access to both existing and new medicines is an essential societal need. Developments in drug discovery to identify new, safe and effective medicines as well as in the development of personalised medicine to target therapies to individual patient needs are vital areas that Scotland has a strong tradition in leading.

However, the way medicines are manufactured also needs to change if we are to reduce the time required to bring new molecules to market, reduce costs and to ensure the supply of medicines to patients is resilient, for example, being able to respond quickly to natural disasters or pandemics.

The key to success is working pre-competitively with industry to ensure close alignment of academic research with their needs.

Centres like the EPSRC Hub for Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation (CMAC), led by the University of Strathclyde, bring together partners from the global pharmaceutical industry that include the likes of GSK, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Bayer, Lilly, Takeda, Roche and MIT Novartis Centre for Continuous Manufacturing who continue to support and invest in CMAC’s research and translational programmes.

The academic collaboration involves leading universities across the UK with Bath, Cambridge, Imperial College, Leeds, Loughborough and Sheffield actively contributing to develop novel approaches supporting pharmaceutical manufacturing and has secured over £20M from EPSRC alone.

CMAC benefits from a physical hub in the £100m Technology Innovation Centre at Strathclyde, and with support from a £33M UK-RPIF partnership has established world-class facilities for advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing.

This kind of approach has enabled the community to develop and apply state-of-the-art tools for digital design of products and processes, modelling and simulation, advanced process development and control, novel continuous microfactories supported by advanced materials characterisation and testing.

Through continued investment and support, including the public sector, Scotland is growing employment, creating opportunities for inward investment in the pharmaceutical manufacturing base as well as creating new business opportunities to capture the intellectual value being created.

Professor Alastair Florence is director of the EPSRC Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation

University of Strathclyde.