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The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), a public-private partnership based at the University of Delaware, has received $153 million in new federal funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

UD-based NIIMBL gets $153 million in new federal support

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

National Institute of Standards and Technology funding includes $83 million for coronavirus

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Wednesday, July 14, announced $153 million in new federal funding for the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), including $83 million for coronavirus response projects.

The grant, awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), extends federal support for NIIMBL for another five years.

NIIMBL, a public-private partnership founded in 2017 and headquartered at the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus, has more than 180 members, representing large industries, small businesses, academic institutions, non-profit and federal agencies.

“This is an important investment for America,” Raimondo said. “I am so pleased that NIIMBL will continue to bring together organizations of all types to deliver impacts on our federal investments, strengthen our nation through better pandemic preparedness and build a more agile manufacturing industry for future economic strength, more cost-effective manufacturing and less reliance on foreign supply chains for our national need for life-saving biopharmaceuticals.”

NIIMBL’s objective is to develop partnerships and innovative approaches to biopharmaceutical manufacturing, with the goal of improving U.S. competitiveness in the industry.

“As the headquarters for NIIMBL, the University of Delaware is proud to work with the Commerce Department and all of our dedicated partners to continue developing better ways to manufacture and deliver biopharmaceuticals,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “Through this innovative research program, we are also thrilled to educate tomorrow’s workforce for this growing industry. The continuation of NIIMBL into a second five-year phase, with increased resources, speaks volumes to the impact that our program is having in advancing this critical national need.”

In its first four years, NIIMBL members have pursued more than 70 projects. Last year, the institute got $8.9 million in CARES Act funding, supporting multiple COVID-19-related projects.

The new support adds fresh fuel to the effort.

“Our vision is to lead and transform the development and adoption of next-generation biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies that contribute to patient wellbeing,” said Kelvin Lee, director of NIIMBL and Gore Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD.

“The additional funding will help our members forge and catalyze advancements vital to the acceleration of innovative technologies and a skilled workforce.”

NIIMBL research labs under the direction of Dr. Kelvin Lee occupies the 5th & 6th floors and has had graduate students such as Erica Green and Nathaniel Hamaker working to keep research going.
NIIMBL research labs on UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus, under the direction of Prof. Kelvin Lee, occupy two floors in the new building and have had graduate students such as Erica Green working to keep research going during the pandemic.

The $83 million in American Rescue Plan funding for coronavirus response projects will:

  • Provide facilities for innovators to access industrial equipment to “fill and finish” vaccines and develop approaches that improve efficiency and sterility in manufacturing environments

  • Support the application of novel analytical technologies for faster characterization of messenger RNA vaccine quality

  • Offer methods to improve messenger RNA vaccine manufacturing to improve storage and distribution requirements

  • Demonstrate rapid scaling for production of coronavirus antigens and medical countermeasures for variants

  • Develop new technology to identify counterfeit vaccines

  • Demonstrate capabilities of portable facilities for manufacturing nucleic acids, critical for the scale-up of RNA-based vaccines

  • Develop a national supply-chain database for biopharmaceutical manufacturers

“COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the importance of pandemic readiness and funding from the American Rescue Plan, in addition to the continued support of NIIMBL, will strengthen the capabilities of our public-private partnership in advancing manufacturing innovations and training a manufacturing workforce, to the benefit of all Americans,” Lee said.

About the researcher

Kelvin Lee is director of the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), the Gore Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware and the previous director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Caltech. Before joining UD’s faculty, he was on the faculty at Cornell University where he was the Samuel C. and Nancy M. Fleming Chair in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, director of the Cornell Institute for Biotechnology, and director of the New York State Center for Life Science Enterprise.


The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) is a public-private partnership whose mission is to accelerate biopharmaceutical innovation, support the development of standards that enable more efficient and rapid manufacturing capabilities, and educate and train a world-leading biopharmaceutical manufacturing workforce, fundamentally advancing U.S. competitiveness in this industry. NIIMBL is part of Manufacturing USA, a diverse network of federally sponsored manufacturing innovation institutes, and is funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce with significant additional support from its members.

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