Designing lean, clean and green R&D facilities
With major multinational biopharma and healthcare manufacturers now looking to outsource their R&D requirements where possible to reduce costs, opportunities abound for specialist research and development companies. However, only the lean, clean and green will survive in what is becoming an increasingly competitive marketplace, says Jordaan Kemp, Principal Architect at PM Group.
The global recession has had a dramatic impact on the biopharma and healthcare markets worldwide. Reduced patent values, tighter margins and increased mergers and acquisition activity has seen many of the big players move their investment eastwards to lower cost manufacturing locations such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and India. In a further bid to reduce costs, many of them have also opted to outsource their R&D requirements and concentrate on their core manufacturing operations.
As the big players reposition themselves for leaner times, this has created a significant opportunity for many of the specialist boutique research and development companies that have been established over the past few years. This has resulted in sizeable investment activity in complimentary clusters of R&D expertise co-located in new science parks, most notably in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, the Middle East, India and Singapore.
Getting it right
“There are major opportunities for specialist R&D providers right now across a wide range of industries. However, R&D facilities can be extremely expensive both in terms of capital and lifecycle costs and, while there is substantial investment ongoing, much of it government and/or university-backed, these companies will need to be lean, clean and green if they are to succeed,” Jordaan explains. “In previous years the main emphasis in R&D facility design was on operational safety which meant greater reliance on containment, higher specifications, higher extract rates and more sophisticated controls. In the current environment, these traditional capacity and operational specifications are being challenged and transformed as these new smaller, more specialist operations need to be leaner and more flexible, have inter-disciplinary capability and be able to offer their clients the fastest and most cost-efficient time to market.”
Another key factor influencing R&D investment is sustainability. “This goes beyond minimizing carbon footprint through green buildings and reduced energy consumption, although these continue to be hugely important considerations,” Jordaan says. “Sustainability means creating flexible, adaptable environments that can and will support a wide range of R&D functions long into the future. This requires an integrated, full lifecycle masterplanning approach that begins with plant and process design and continues right through to building and landscape architecture. It must also take full account of local infrastructure such as transport links and IT networks as well as the availability of a skilled workforce and complimentary expertise. Only then can these R&D companies hope to create the type of sustainable, ergonomic environments that will continue to attract and retain the top level expertise necessary to compete in the marketplace.”
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