Delaware Public Media

NIIMBL gets federal funds to bolster COVID-19 response

Jun 5, 2020

The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) is a national private-public organization based at the University of Delaware.

It received an $8.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce last week to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Delaware Public Media’s Nick Ciolino recently spoke with NIIMBL Director Kelvin Lee about how those dollars will be spent and what the grant means locally for Delawareans.

The federal grant is meant to, among other things, increase domestic manufacturing capabilities for a coronavirus vaccine—once one is developed. 

“The new ways that we’re trying to push technology are to accelerate the time between when a medicine is known to be needed and when it can actually be ready and available and safe for patients to take,” said NIIMBL Director Kelvin Lee.

NIIMBL is also working to identify domestic supply chains to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers of respirators and PPE. The federal grant will also help fund rapid in-house testing, decontaminating clinical spaces and developing contact tracing technology.

Lee says the grant will also go towards preparing the nation for future pandemics. 

“Trying to ensure that we have the kinds of manufacturing platform technologies we need to be able to respond, really, in a fast and agile manner when we have a pandemic such as the current one,” said Lee.   

Sen. Chris Coons applauds the grant saying, in a statement, he is “thrilled” that Delaware scientists and engineers will be leading the effort to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity in the U.S.

Lee adds the grant could also contribute to potential future wins for the First State’s economy—drawing more manufacturing and research and development companies to the region and creating high paying jobs.