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GSK’s Bill Dawson appointed head of UK medicines manufacturing alliance

Bill Dawson, Head of Biologics and Devices Manufacturing at GSK, has been appointed the new Chair of the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), a body representing the voice of medicines manufacturing in the UK.

The MMIP is an Expert Group of the Life Sciences Council, the UK’s most senior life sciences governance body, and is jointly managed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS). It aims to help make the UK an attractive place for industry investment in manufacturing, to boost UK exports, provide highly skilled jobs and contribute to the economy.

Bill is a senior leader with over 25 years’ experience in the vaccines, biopharma, pharmaceutical and clinical research (CRO) industries, and has seen for himself the opportunity that medicines manufacturing presents to the UK economy.

On his appointment, he highlighted the value of the UK’s medicines manufacturing sector and renewed the MMIP’s calls for the UK to be a world leader in this area.

Bill Dawson, new Chair of the MMIP said: “Pharmaceutical manufacturing plays a vital role in supporting the health of millions of people and is already delivering more than £16 billion in value to the UK economy. And it can do even more.

“With the right partnership and support, over the next ten years the medicines manufacturing sector could attract an extra £15 billion investment in UK manufacturing, create more opportunities to adopt innovative technologies and deliver thousands more jobs in the UK.

“As Chair of the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership, I hope to help make the UK one of the best places in the world to make new medicines, in the most sustainable way.”  

Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the UK BioIndustry Association said “The UK has the expertise to produce the most advanced therapies in the world, like those based on mRNA and CRISPR, and year on year, our manufacturing capacity is increasing. 

‘We’ve got to keep up this momentum and with Bill at the helm I’m sure our sector’s ability to deliver jobs, economic growth, and life-changing medicines for patients, will continue to accelerate.”

Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the ABPI said “I would like to welcome Bill to his new role. The potential for medicines manufacturing to drive economic growth and job creation in the UK is huge.

“I am confident that under Bill's leadership of the MMIP, and with the considerable expertise he brings, that we can drive further improvements to make the UK the destination of choice for innovative and sustainable medicines manufacturing."

The ABPI’s new Pharma Impact Map shows the spread of manufacturing facilities across the nations of the UK. Of the UK’s total of 497 medicines manufacturing sites, 399 are in England, 58 are in Scotland, 29 in Wales and 11 in Northern Ireland.

The MMIP wants to make the UK a world-leader in advanced and sustainable medicines manufacturing. Last year the partnership set out a 10 year vision which included calls for:   

  • Investing £1.1bn investment over four years to provide sustained, predictable and accessible innovation funding and incentives, comprising £200m for collaborative R&D grants and £900m over four years for medicines manufacturing capital grant funding to unlock £6bn of industry investment
  • Driving growth through leadership in environmentally sustainable medicines manufacturing, by:
    • developing an internationally recognised standard for greenhouse gas emissions;
    • developing a technology and innovation roadmap for environmentally sustainable medicines manufacturing;
    • Investing in the national infrastructure needed to support medicines manufacturers and their supply chains to transition to net zero and deliver on sustainability goals.
  • Driving growth by fostering a pro-innovation operating environment including through internationally competitive fiscal incentives, and the establishment of an effective investment ‘front door’

Since setting out this vision – there has already been significant progress. Including:

  • £520million of long-term funding committed to capital grants for life sciences manufacturing [2]
  • The launch of a competition to establish a Medicines Manufacturing Skills Centre of Excellence
  • Longer-term certainty on fiscal incentives with full-expensing being made permanent, and the establishment of a new merged-R&D tax credit regime
  • £400million committed by industry as part of a first-of-its-kind Voluntary Scheme investment programme, of which around 20 per cent of which will go to manufacturing, including collaborative R&D and grand challenge programmes to support innovation in sustainable and net-zero medicines manufacturing [3]

The MMIP is committed to working with Government to drive the delivery of its shared 10-year vision and maximising the opportunities provided by these recent announcements.  

Case studies of manufacturing investment in the UK

GSK and sustainable manufacturing

As part of GSK’s commitment to a net zero impact on climate, they have set a target to transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2025. In September 2021, they announced a major £50m investment at manufacturing sites in Scotland and the US to secure renewable power generation. This includes a twenty-year power purchase agreement to build, run and maintain a 28MW solar and wind turbine facility at GSK’s Irvine site. When fully operational, this project will reduce GSK’s carbon footprint by around 7,000 tonnes of carbon annually. GSK is also working on a solar farm project at its Barnard Castle Site which would generate up to 16MWp of power. Find out more.


AstraZeneca has outlined plans to invest £650 million in the UK. This significant investment will enhance public health protection and pandemic preparedness.  

The company intends to invest £450 million at their manufacturing site in Speke, Liverpool for the research, development, and manufacture of vaccines. AstraZeneca will also expand its presence at Europe’s largest life sciences cluster in Cambridge with £200 million in investment. The facility will house around 1,000 employees and will be adjacent to its £1.1 billion global R&D Discovery Centre (DISC), which already hosts 2,300 researchers and scientists.


A 10-year strategic partnership between Moderna and the government will see the company make a significant investment in research, development, and manufacturing in the UK. The Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC) at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire will bring innovative mRNA vaccines to the UK public. The site will employ more than 150 people and have the capacity to manufacture up to 250 million doses per year from 2025, increasing onshore supplies of respiratory vaccines and bringing much-needed resilience to the UK’s vaccine capability.

Autolus: From spin out to a potential billion-dollar business

Autolus makes personalised cancer treatments known as CAR-T cell therapies. These are created by harvesting a patient’s own immune cells, modifying them, before returning them to the patient where they locate and destroy tumours. More recently Autolus has expanded its pipeline into autoimmune diseases where it sees a significant opportunity.  Autolus, spun-out from UCL in 2014 and has received £7.2 million in funding from Innovate UK to help develop innovative manufacturing approaches.

US FDA accepted Autolus’ first filing for a Biologics License Application (BLA) for its lead CAR-T cell product, obecabtagene autoleucel (obe-cel) for the treatment of relapsed/refractory (r/r) adult B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), with an expected PDUFA date in November 2024 and the company is on track to submit a marketing authorization application (MAA) submission to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) during the first half of 2024. Autolus supplied its clinical trials with products manufactured at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Stevenage and has now fully validated its own 70,000sq ft flagship commercial manufacturing facility which will provide capacity for approximately 2,000 batches per year with room for expansion. The company is preparing for a potential launch of obe-cel and successfully transitioning Autolus into a commercial stage company.    


  • Manufacturing

Last modified: 23 May 2024

Last reviewed: 23 May 2024

[1] Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), Follow the green, high-tech road: A path to UK growth, net zero and health resilience from innovation in medicines manufacturing, June 2023, p5 available at https://www.abpi.org.uk/media/he0p1ojq/mmip-2023-report.pdf

[2] Department for Business and Trade (DBT), Advanced Manufacturing Plan, Nov 23, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advanced-manufacturing-plan

[3] Department of Health and Social Care, 2024 voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing, access and growth, p52, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2024-voluntary-scheme-for-branded-medicines-pricing-access-and-growth

About the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP)

The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) is a strategic partnership of the medicines manufacturing industry working together with the government and its agencies, to drive a growth agenda for medicines manufacturing in the UK. It aims to help make the UK an attractive place for industry investment in manufacturing, to boost UK exports, provide highly skilled jobs and contribute to the economy.

MMIP operates as a strategic delivery board of the Life Sciences Council, jointly managed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the BioIndustry Association (BIA). MMIP’s views and reports provide industry-led advice to Government on the future of medicines manufacturing.

The ABPI exists to make the UK the best place in the world to research, develop and use new medicines. We represent companies of all sizes who invest in discovering the medicines of the future. 

Our members supply cutting edge treatments that improve and save the lives of millions of people. We work in partnership with Government and the NHS so patients can get new treatments faster and the NHS can plan how much it spends on medicines. Every day, we partner with organisations in the life sciences community and beyond to transform lives across the UK.