New £10m robotic labs investment for iiCON in plans to ‘supercharge’ Liverpool life sciences

News article 12 Mar 2024

New £10m high-containment Category Three robotic laboratories will be built to support innovative infection R&D activity being delivered through the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine-led Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON.

The funding is part of Liverpool City Region’s Investment Zone plans, unveiled today, to ‘supercharge’ health and life sciences. Overall, the Investment Zone plans to create 8,000 new jobs and potentially deliver £800m of public and private investment over 10 years.

The new labs, one of 21 funded projects, will be fitted with state-of-the-art robotics, AI and liquid handling equipment to safely study dangerous pathogens. The funding will further enhance iiCON and LSTM’s ability to deliver innovation and life-saving research into new drugs and diagnostics to combat infectious disease. LSTM is already home to the largest number of Category Three laboratories in the North West.

Research in the new labs will focus on iiCON’s innovative R&D platforms led by LSTM: Organoids and its Bio-Actives Library. iiCON and LSTM will also develop RIBA Stage 2 plans for a new facility in Liverpool which will provide increased specialist biotech and high-containment Category Three laboratories to house the expansion of iiCON’s existing R&D platforms.

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding director of iiCON, said: “We’re pleased to have secured this important funding as part of the Liverpool City Region Life Sciences Investment Zone programme. This funding is an important next step which will enable us to continue to develop and expand our operational pipeline - opening out our highly specialist offering to industry partners of all sizes to support their innovation and save and improve lives worldwide.

“As a place-based initiative, our location in the heart of the Liverpool City Region’s thriving health and life sciences ecosystem has been key to the success of the programme. The region has world-leading capability in drug discovery, diagnostics, clinical trials, & vaccine manufacturing capability within one of Europe’s largest biopharmaceutical manufacturing clusters and the plans laid out in the Investment Zone prospectus speak to the scale of the ambition within the region.”

Liverpool City Region’s full Investment Zone plans are detailed in a new prospectus, launched today, and include new hi-tech facilities, business and innovation support and initiatives to train the next generation of talent.

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “With up to £800m of investment and thousands of quality, high skilled jobs on offer, the Liverpool City Region Innovation Zone is an important tool in our arsenal to position our area at the head of UK science and innovation.”