Work has begun on a new £55m facility designed to speed up developments of critical treatment for patients.

Construction of the Cell Therapy Catapult’s cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre in Stevenage has started, with the facility due to open in 2017.

It will become a hub of large-scale manufacturing related to cell and gene therapy – a field in which the BRC is heavily involved through its experimental medicine and therapeutics programmes.

The Cell Therapy Catapult is the UK organisation dedicated to the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry by bridging the gap between scientific research and commercialisation.

Its 7,200 sq m manufacturing centre is located in close proximity to international air transport links at London Heathrow airport, enabling rapid transport of the cells to and from the developer facility.

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has committed £55m to the project, which will create up to 150 specialist jobs, and many more additional roles in the cluster that grows around it.

The UK government and Cell Therapy Catapult also anticipate the centre will attract considerable inward investment to the UK.

Keith Thompson, CEO of the Cell Therapy Catapult, said: “Manufacturing continues to involve significant international logistical and regulatory challenges to the development of cell therapies.

“The manufacturing centre will be a game changer for the UK cell therapy industry, as well as the future international availability of therapies for patients. Both UK and international companies will now be able to plan and spread costs via economies of scale for their manufacturing for clinical trials for the UK, European and global markets.”