Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing

Director: Bernhardt L. Trout | Email | Website

50 Ames Street • E19-502b • Cambridge, MA 02139 • (617) 258-5021

The batch-based manufacturing system currently employed by the pharmaceutical industry is costly and inefficient. A drug’s active ingredients are synthesized in a chemical manufacturing plant and then shipped to a separate facility where they are converted into large batches of pills, liquids, or creams. With multiple interruptions, including transport to separate locations, the production of just one batch of drugs can take weeks. What’s more, the manufacturing design and scale-up required to produce a new drug can be financially unsustainable and exceedingly time-consuming.

The Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing is a 10-year research collaboration aimed at transforming pharmaceutical production. Combining the industrial expertise of Novartis with MIT’s scientific and technological leadership, the Center develops new technologies to replace the pharmaceutical industry’s conventional batch-based system with a continuous manufacturing process. Continuous manufacturing will benefit patients, healthcare providers, and the pharmaceutical industry by:

  • Accelerating the introduction of new drugs through efficient production processes
  • Requiring the use of smaller production facilities with lower building and capital costs
  • Minimizing waste, energy consumption, and raw material use
  • Monitoring drug quality on a continuous basis rather than through post-production, batch-based testing
  • Enhancing process reliability and flexibility to respond to market needs

Initial research is conducted primarily through PhD programs at MIT laboratories and involves MIT faculty members, students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff scientists. Novartis then applies the research to industrial-scale projects and pilots new manufacturing processes using its own pharmaceutical products. Novartis has committed its manufacturing and R&D resources and $65 million to the Center over the next 10 years.