Medical Air Technology has completed its part of the construction work at Aberystwyth University’s new innovation cluster – VetHub1 – successfully handing over the high-specification CL3 and CL2 laboratory suite that forms part of the development.
When complete, VetHub1 – led by the University, and backed with a £3 m grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government – will provide high-specification office space and biosecure facilities. The facility, due for completion later this year, will confirm the university’s position as a centre for veterinary expertise and animal healthcare.
At VetHub1 – designed to be a commercially driven research platform – researchers will work with industry to develop tests and vaccines to help reduce losses in the livestock industry, and improve animal health. They will also look particularly at developing solutions for animal-borne diseases that could pass to humans. The first of its kind in a Welsh university setting, the project will ‘harness the expertise of academic staff to develop world-leading research’, and engage with local SMEs.
Jackie Sayce, the VetHub1 Project manager at Aberystwyth University, said: “MAT has steered the university project team through the design and construction phases by working in partnership to produce state-of-the art CL3 and CL2 laboratory spaces. We benefited from an open and transparent approach t, facilitated by fortnightly site meetings to discuss progress and developments.
“We aim to help establish Wales as a globally recognised centre of expertise in cattle and sheep diseases. The new facilities and infrastructure built by MAT will contribute to our ability to lead and promote excellent research into livestock disease.”
The VetHub1 suite features three laboratories, accessed via a lobby and a central anteroom. The design allows for an increased progression of negative pressure. Each laboratory can operate individually to allow leasing to different clients. To achieve this, MAT developed a complex control system especially for the project.
All work has been completed to SR4 standards. The suite uses a modular panelling system for the walls and ceilings, and has a walk-on ceiling, so that services can be maintained from above. It features an external plant compound, surrounded by an SR4 security wall and access door. The compound contains the air-handling unit, condensers, exhaust fans, an exhaust stack, and a back-up generator. All systems have an uninterruptible power supply back-up, supported by an independent generator. This ensures that negative pressure to the laboratories, and therefore a safe environment, is always maintained.
MAT installed a mixture of class I, II, and III microbiological safety cabinets throughout, and each laboratory has an autoclave for sterilising equipment. All furniture is mobile to suit the different layouts required by the various clients.