The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, housed at the University of Delaware, has received $153 million in federal funding, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week.
The funding includes $70 million to renew federal sponsorship of NIIMBL for five years and another $83 million for projects related to COVID-19.
NIIMBL is a UD-led coalition of 180 companies, educational institutions, nonprofits and state governments. The public-private partnership is designed to accelerate innovation in the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry, which produces vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, gene therapies and other medical products derived from biological sources. Every $1 of federal investment in NIIMBL has been matched by $1.80 in funding from NIIMBL member organizations.
The organization is headquarted in UD’s biopharmaceutical building, which quietly opened at the STAR Campus amidst the pandemic last year.
“I am so pleased that NIIMBL will continue to bring together organizations of all types to help strengthen our nation through better pandemic preparedness and a more agile manufacturing industry,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a prepared statement. “This important investment for America, funded in part by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, will help meet the nation’s need for lifesaving biopharmaceuticals.”
Biopharmaceutical research took on increased prominence during the pandemic, and part of the federal grants awarded to NIIMBL will allow the organization to focus on messenger RNA, which is used in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
As part of this effort, NIIMBL will work to increase the shelf life and reduce the amount of refrigeration required for messenger RNA vaccines, boost capabilities for rapid production of antigens used in testing and screening for new variants and develop novel technologies for detecting counterfeit vaccines, among other things.
“COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the importance of pandemic readiness and funding from the American Rescue Plan, in addition to the continued support of NIIMBL, will strengthen the capabilities of our public-private partnership in advancing manufacturing innovations and training a manufacturing workforce, to the benefit of all Americans,” Kelvin Lee, director of NIIMBL and a UD professor, said in a prepared statement.