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UD breaks ground on $156 million biopharma building

Katie Peikes
Delaware Public Media
Officials break ground on UD's Biopharmaceutical Innovation Building, which is slated to open in early 2019.

State and University of Delaware officials broke ground on UD’s Biopharmaceutical Innovation Building Monday morning. They hope it will advance research in bioscience to make new medicines more readily available. 

The six-story, 200,000 square foot building on UD’s STAR campus will host research and development for creating medicines with living cells.

UD President Dennis Assanis says those medicines are made at plants far away from hospitals in the region and it can take a few weeks to get them to patients.

“Patients don’t have that kind of time to live,” Assanis said. “Our vision is that we are going to create the innovation to make those biopharmaceuticals close to major hospitals in the area so we can deliver to the patients quickly.”

Two floors of the new building will house the headquarters of the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals.

Kelvin Lee, NIIMBL’s director, says the now six-month-old manufacturing institute will expand to train a growing workforce.  The facility will be equipped with laboratory and teaching spaces to train workers, he said.

“I think you’re going to see a real change in the growth of the industry in this country as well as around the world, which ultimately is going to lead towards new medicine to treat patients,” Lee said.

The biopharmaceutical industry has a “negative unemployment rate,” Assanis said, meaning the jobs available outnumber the amount of people qualified to fill them.

“We feel that this project will cut about the formation of an industry around the STAR campus and throughout the state of Delaware and beyond,” Assanis said. “We envision that we will create the jobs of the future, people working in agile, NIIMBL, manufacturing facilities.”

The facility cost $156 million and was funded through the university. It is expected to open in early 2020.

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