By Mary Hearty

In an effort to build a thriving biopharma skills base in Kenya and the wider East Africa, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Unizima, an affiliate of Univercells Group, have partnered to establish a Bio-manufacturing Training Hub.

This was done at a meeting led by President William Ruto, during his official trip to Belgium where he toured the Univercells Group biomanufacturing campus and production facility in Jumet.

As Kenya prepares for significant inwards investment in biotechnology and biomanufacturing over the coming years, the government is building the human capital and workforce development needed to ensure this investment brings real improvement in access to vaccines and biotherapeutics for patients in Kenya and the region.

This project is in line with the government’s agenda of advancing the economic pillar of local manufacturing and the development objective on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

In his remarks during the meeting, the President stated that the Government of Kenya is committed and determined to realize the constitutional right to health in the shortest time possible by delivering universal health coverage.

“We are therefore delighted to initiate a collaboration with Unizima and the Univercells Group as we share a common mission and values,” President Ruto said.

“This new partnership is an important step towards building local training and workforce capacities in Kenya, which is crucial for the health and wellbeing of the fast-growing Kenyan population.”

KEMRI’s acting Director General Prof. Elijah Songok welcomed the move noting that the institution will be at the forefront of leading other Kenyan institutions in providing research and development.

“We are excited about this partnership with Unizima in Belgium that will surely provide KEMRI with expertise, advisory support, training and technology particularly in the area of biomanufacturing ecosystem which is fundamental to the Kenyan people,” Prof Songok stated, during the ground-breaking announcement in Belgium.

“KEMRI is living its mission of providing leadership in human health research, capacity building and service delivery, and this landmark initiative with the Belgians is a clear indication.”

The president also discussed collaborations between the Company and other research institutions in Kenya. The collaboration will include among other areas, expertise, advisory support and training technology transfer.