Innovation Flourishes In Virginia's Richmond Petersburg Corridor
The Richmond-Petersburg region has brought together industry, educational institutions, and government organizations to secure the pharmaceutical supply chain and advance manufacturing in the sector.
Driven by a spirit of collaboration, Virginia’s life sciences sector has gained significant momentum in recent years and innovative hubs are emerging and expanding across the Commonwealth. Virginia convenes industry, education, and government to collectively work toward solving the most pressing medical issues and training the workforce to advance these developments.
Securing Domestic Pharmaceutical Supply Chains
An essential medicines collaboration developed in Virginia in 2020 with the establishment of Phlow Corp., a public benefit corporation affiliated with the Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) College of Engineering. M4ALL develops techniques and processes to make medicines using continuous manufacturing, a largely automated process that offers significant long-term savings and efficiency benefits over traditional batch manufacturing processes. This partnership has established the Richmond region as one of the top places in the country fighting to reduce prescription drug costs. In addition, VCU’s doctoral degree program in pharmaceutical engineering — the first of its kind in the nation — provides a strong workforce pipeline for the industry.
In 2021, Phlow secured a $354 million contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to manufacture essential medicines for the Strategic National Stockpile and start the first Strategic Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Reserve to provide a long-term supply of key ingredients used to manufacture essential medicines. As a strategic partner in the initiative with Phlow, M4ALL, and AMPAC Fine Chemicals, nonprofit drug manufacturer Civica Inc. established a 140,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in the city of Petersburg that will convert active pharmaceutical ingredients from AMPAC and Phlow into vials and syringes of finished medications for use in hospitals.
Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) College of Engineering develops techniques and processes to make medicines using continuous manufacturing. In addition to manufacturing essential medicines hospitals use daily, the plant will manufacture and distribute insulins that will be available at significantly lower prices than insulins currently on the market. Civica recently announced it will manufacture insulins for the state of California’s CalRx Biosimilar Insulin Initiative. The new facility, expected to begin production this year, will ultimately have the capacity to produce a substantial portion of the insulin needed in the United States, with additional space to increase production if necessary.
Strengthening Virginia’s Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster
The critical collaboration between Phlow, M4ALL, Civica, and AMPAC advances the pharmaceutical cluster that has emerged in Richmond-Petersburg and solidifies Virginia as a significant player in domestic drug manufacturing. In 2022, a coalition led by the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority was awarded $52.9 million as a recipient of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge for Biotechnology and Health.
This award is a major boost to pharmaceutical manufacturing in Virginia, enabling investments in wet lab space and expanded R&D, strengthening the community college pipeline for trained technicians, developing a regional supply chain, and providing critical infrastructure upgrades to sustain current and future capacity in Petersburg. The project will also catalyze a new partnership between VCU and Virginia State University to create pathways for underserved residents to high-quality training and jobs in the pharmaceutical industry.
The critical collaboration between Phlow, M4ALL, Civica, and AMPAC advances the pharmaceutical cluster that has emerged in Richmond-Petersburg and solidifies Virginia as a significant player in domestic drug manufacturing. Virginia’s Global Impact
Greater Richmond’s growth trend in life sciences also includes industry giants like Haleon (formerly GSK Consumer Healthcare) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., which is investing $97 million to expand its bioanalytical laboratory operations into three new locations in the region. Recently, Virginia announced a $10 million grant to support a new 102,000-square-foot Innovation Center at the VA Bio+Tech Park in Richmond for life sciences office and lab space and to house startups, as well as $5 million toward the production of basic ingredients for medicine in Richmond-Petersburg.
Crucial collaboration and innovation among higher education institutions, government, and the private sector is advancing the Richmond-Petersburg region as an industry hotbed with global reach.
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