A new ‘Lighthouse Lab’ facility will be established in Leicestershire to increase the UK’s COVID-19 testing capacity, in an investment creating 400 jobs.
The UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Lighthouse Lab at Charnwood Campus in Loughborough is a partnership with global diagnostics company PerkinElmer.
It will be the seventh major lab supplementing NHS labs, processing tests across the National Testing Programme, and the first facility in the East Midlands, following sites in Milton Keynes, Alderley Park, Cambridge, Glasgow in Scotland, Newport in Wales and Antrim in Northern Ireland.
The Lighthouse Lab network has been established to increase the number of COVID-19 tests that can take place each day. The labs receive samples from care homes, COVID-19 testing centres and home testing kits, which are then processed by a skilled workforce from across the scientific community.
The Lighthouse Lab at Charnwood Campus aims to process 50,000 tests per day by the end of the year and will be delivered and managed by PerkinElmer.
Charnwood Campus commercial director Gosia Khrais says: “We expressed our readiness to join the national effort to fight the pandemic very early on, and worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to build a robust business case for close collaboration between Charnwood Campus and PerkinElmer, with Charnwood providing the building and facility management services, and PerkinElmer recruiting a skilled workforce and performing the testing. The proposal has been supported by Charnwood Borough Council which helped promote the Campus site and Loughborough as the best location for the new lab.
“The teams deployed to lead these projects are highly qualified experts focused on delivering the best outcomes. The Charnwood Lighthouse Lab will significantly accelerate current COVID-19 testing capacity, helping to control the spread of the virus and prevent spikes in the number of cases.
“The successful delivery of the project will help protect lives, the NHS and the economy by allowing us to test and confirm or rule out COVID quickly and on a mass scale. People with a negative test result will be able to return to work without the need to self-isolate. Testing also allows us to quickly identify and isolate those with a positive test result, helping to contain the spread of the virus.
“I am pleased that Charnwood Campus’ world-class facility will be part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history, and that Loughborough will play a key role in scaling up the UK’s testing capacity and helping to fight against the virus.”
Cllr Jonathan Morgan, leader of Charnwood Borough Council, added: “The Lighthouse Lab will see 400 jobs being created, which will be crucial in supporting the national testing effort, as well as providing a boost to the local and regional economy in these challenging times. I am pleased Charnwood can play such an important role in tackling the pandemic.
“The Lighthouse Lab will also help to grow the life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors in the region, providing opportunities to train and develop life science professionals and building on the East Midlands’ and Loughborough’s reputation for outstanding pharmaceutical research and development.’’