UK Biocentre

Lighthouse Laboratory

Established by the National Institute for Health and Care Research in 2014, UK Biocentre, based in Milton Keynes, provide world leading sample management and high-capacity bioprocessing.

They make extensive use of dedicated automation and software systems for consistent and high throughput sample processing and tracking delivering best value for UK medical research. Their mission is to be the centre of excellence for UK sample management and a key part of the UK science infrastructure.

The Challenge

In April 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock challenged the UK science community to undertake 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day by the end of the same month. The UK Biocentre was charged with playing a key role in hitting this extremely ambitious target.

Biomatics were asked by UK Biocentre to support them in achieving this, providing the Project Management services needed to set up a major COVID-19 testing facility at UK Biocentre’s Milton Keynes laboratories.

Biomatics have a team of experienced Programme and Project Managers, many with Life Sciences backgrounds, allowing us to offer effective, immediate support.

For the lab to play its part in the national testing challenge, it needed to undertake 30,000 tests a day during the first wave of the pandemic. This required an unprecedented amount of complex change, logistical management and strong partnership working with multiple stakeholders and delivery partners.

The key aim: Provide project management for the establishment of one of the UK’s pioneering Lighthouse labs

The key aim:

  • Provide project management for the establishment of one of the UK’s pioneering Lighthouse Labs

Our Action

Biomatics collaborated with UK Biocentre staff, senior management and equipment suppliers to repurpose the existing laboratories, so they were capable of providing the capacity required for such a colossal undertaking. This required the Biocentre to completely transform its operations to enable it to deliver high quality COVID-19 testing at enormous scale.

To deliver a successful outcome, Biomatics identified the key project workstreams needed to roll out the testing service, before designing and executing a robust Plan and detailed Governance structure to ensure the workstreams worked in tandem. These interdependent workstreams included:

  • Building setup
  • Science operations
  • Human resources
  • Procurement and supply chain management
  • Data analysis and LIMS
  • IT
  • Communications
  • Supplier management
  • Operational

Owing to the timescales involved, it was critical that the workstreams were in line with the governance, reporting structure and overarching plan. Any risks and issues needed to be raised appropriately and immediately, and mitigating actions and escalations made and actioned in real time when required. Biomatics have a strong Project Management Office (PMO) that is able to provide background support and governance, utilising best practice methodologies and processes to help keep the work on track. With the help of the PMO the plan was executed, constantly monitored and adjusted as and when required to ensure the solution was fully optimised and met the evolving needs of UK Biocentre.

This project utilises:

  • Project Management
  • PMO

The Results

Working seven days a week for four weeks, while adhering to strict social distancing rules, Biomatics and its partners ensured that UK Biocentre were able to hit its expansion targets.

Its labs were able to analyse many thousands of samples every day with testing capacity increasing daily. Biomatics have helped to make the UK Biocentre in Milton Keynes part of the largest diagnostic testing network the country has ever seen.

The work undertaken has highlighted:

  • Increased capacity for testing

Biomatics provided vital project management services which allowed the UK Biocentre to upscale its Covid-19 testing capacity within a very challenging and tight timescale. The size and complexity of this work required a dedicated project management service able to focus on what really mattered. We appreciated working within a partnership where mutual trust and respect were put front and centre, and where we were not simply treated as a company hiring in a supplier. Yes, we were expecting a company that would support and work hard for us – but we weren’t expecting to actually enjoy working with a partner so much!

Tony Cox OBE | Chief Executive Officer

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