Kelvin Lee, 48, is driving a $250 million plan that links 150 partners to create the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals at the University of Delaware. It’s the 11th of 15 promised by Manufacturing USA to unite manufacturers, academia and governments. Lee, director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and Gore professor of chemistry and biomolecular engineering at UD, says it’s now time for “quiet work to build the administrative structure,” for the institute, which aims to spur a critical density of people trained in biopharmaceuticals, which are prescription drugs made with living cells. “The industry doesn’t have trouble creating job openings, but in filling those jobs with people people with the right skills,” he says.
His leadership of the new institute builds on research at the California Institute of Technology and Cornell, directing the New York State Center for Life Science Enterprise and the Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies at Cornell and, since 2008, leading DBI, next to UD’s Newark campus. Its mission—“catalyze unique cross-disciplinary research and education initiatives, and to foster the entrepreneurship that creates high-quality jobs”—foreshadows his new mission, too.