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UD starts work for rising SABRE Center

Katie Tabeling
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Securing American Biomanufacturing Research and Education (SABRE) Center on the STAR Campus and aligned with NIIMBL, the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals. The new facility will enable biopharmaceutical testing and the training of highly skilled workers in the biopharma industry.

University of Delaware officials, state and federal representatives broke ground on the SABRE Center in late April. | PHOTO COURTESY OF EVAN KRAPE/UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

NEWARK — Work is underway at a $150 million manufacturing center, marking a new chapter of the next National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) Center.

University officials, dignitaries and others broke ground in late April on the future SABRE Center, which is an acronym for Securing American Bio-Manufacturing Research and Education. Planned to be next to the Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center on the STAR Campus, the facility will be a 70,000 square-foot facility that will give NIIMBL the ability to “scale up.”

Kelvin Lee, NIIMBL Institute director, told the Delaware Business Times that SABRE won’t necessarily change how research is done at NIIMBL, but it would expand its capabilities to refine promising technologies. SABRE would open avenues for testing new manufacturing technologies in an environment like commercial manufacturing, versus a laboratory.

As new manufacturing innovations get developed and matured from early proof of concept toward robust and reliable methods, the innovations need to be tested to ensure that they can function as intended in environments that represent commercial manufacturing facilities,” Lee said.

NIIMBL is a UD-led coalition of nearly 200 companies, educational institutions, nonprofits and state governments. Backed by millions in federal funding over the years, the seven-year-old partnership was designed as a pioneer in biopharmaceutical and efficient manufacturing as well as preparing the future workforce.

UD officials hope that the SABRE Center will bring 3,500 jobs to Delaware over the next decade, and have the capabilities to manufacture proteins, antibodies and gene therapies.

“Our vision is that the SABRE Center will create an opportunity for biomanufacturing workforce training both on existing manufacturing approaches as well as innovative manufacturing approaches being developed within NIIMBL,” Lee added. “By having an infrastructure to do hands-on training in an environment that is representative of a commercial manufacturing environment, we believe we can help address some of the workforce needs locally, regionally and nationally.”

The SABRE Center, which was first identified by the Delaware Business Times in early 2022, was supported by $15 million in federal earmarks secured by Delaware’s Democratic Delegation. State officials have also allocated $45 million for the project, including $15 million in last year’s bond bill.

The new facility builds off the success of the STAR Campus, which rose from the former Chrysler Plant’s closure in 2008. Today, the campus boasts one million square feet of new development that includes Chemours’ Discovery Center, Bloom Energy’s factory, the Tower@STAR office building, the STAR Health Sciences Complex and a new Amtrak station already open on the site. The FinTech Center opened recently and now includes an accelerator for new companies.

There is no set date when the facility will open.

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