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The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory

th3rdcurve was brought in to support the UK Government on its COVID-19 testing programme.

Our Experience

The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory

4 minute read

The challenge

In response to the pandemic, we were engaged to lead the project management, PMO and controls for the design and build of the UK’s first megalab.

 

The Rosalind Franklin laboratory in Royal Leamington Spa is one of the centrepieces of the UK’s future test and trace infrastructure. When fully staffed, it can process hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 samples every day, performing a key role in responding to new variants.

 

On 13 July 2021, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, commended the lab, stating:

 

“The UK Health Security Agency is going to put us at the forefront of the global battle against COVID-19 and help us stay a step ahead of new and emerging future threats.

 

Trailblazing technologies are going to be pivotal to delivering on this bold ambition and I’m delighted that today we are bolstering our capabilities in testing and genomic sequencing with the opening of the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory.

 

This Laboratory will be one of the centrepieces of our efforts to manage this virus in the future, processing hundreds of thousands of positive COVID-19 tests a day to help us stop cases becoming outbreaks. Testing has already been instrumental in helping us control the virus and it is going to be essential to continue to protect ourselves and our communities in the months ahead. I’d urge everyone to take up our offer of free, twice weekly rapid testing.”

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th3rdcurve was engaged from the inception of the project to provide leadership in project management and project controls and to set up a PMO function. Due to the urgency of the pandemic, rapid and agile project delivery was needed to complete concept design, mobilisation and construction. It was a race to support the fight against COVID-19 in saving lives.

 

Collaboration was key to expedite the project. We supported the client in drafting and implementing a contract structure that would promote collaboration and drive delivery. We then reinforced this by training both the client and the supply chain in the contract and we implemented Oracle Aconex to manage design and contract communications.

 

Another critical success factor in the project was placing the schedule at its heart. We implemented a cloud-based integrated controls solution, leveraging tools such as Primavera and Acumen to manage the project interfaces and establish a clear critical path. We also established a governance regime to ensure the project was effectively managed and to expedite the key decisions needed to support optimal project delivery.

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The solution

The lab was built in under one year

3x faster
than the industry benchmark

The impact

Just six months after mobilisation to site, the new state-of-the-art megalab became fully operational. The facility is central to the UK Health Security Agency’s plans for managing COVID-19, which include scaled up genome sequencing capacity to address the concerns around variants. It is one of the largest laboratories in the world, creating up to 1,500 jobs and having processed more than one million test results so far.

 

We believe that there are lessons to be learned from this fast-paced project that can contribute to future project successes.

 

These lessons include:

 

  • innovative and rapid procurement methods, with an emphasis on collaboration and trust

  • the inclusion of big programme management principles and experts throughout the lifecycle to deliver numerous benefits and drive benefits-focused delivery

  • that nimble and effective governance is key to momentum

 

Our contribution to the project was commended by the Government’s Infrastructure and Project Authority in a formal review, citing the governance, controls and management as a key factor in the project’s success. We are extremely proud to have played such a pivotal role in supporting the fight against COVID-19.

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