STAFF at a pioneering biopharmaceutical company will be given a head start in their training to manufacture life-saving and life-enhancing medicines and vaccines.
Lakes BioScience has teamed up with the National Horizons Centre (NHC) - Teesside University’s £22.3m centre of excellence for the biosciences and the healthcare sector - to train its staff using technology similar to the machines which will be installed in its planned state-of-the-art £350m base in Ulverston, Cumbria.
The NHC, based in Darlington, will soon be equipped with equivalent machinery which will be placed in Lakes BioScience’s proposed 10,000-square-metre plant, and staff from Lakes BioScience will visit the education centre to get hands-on practical experience of using the complex systems to ensure the future workforce is trained in manufacturing world first pharmaceuticals at the earliest opportunity.
Included in the training is revolutionary virtual reality technology which can realistically simulate the complex operations of the bioproduction plant NHC Director Jen Vanderhoven said: “This partnership is about developing a new workforce and getting the Lakes BioScience team which needs to operate this new equipment trained appropriately so they are ready to roll when the factory opens.
“We have the same equipment they will be using so it’s an opportunity for employees to train even before their machines arrive.
“What the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us is that we really need a skilled workforce to manufacture these life-saving medicines and vaccines. You can build as many buildings as you want and put all the fancy equipment in, but that won’t make any difference unless you have people who can work it in a safe and efficient manner.
“Through this training, their staff will be trained in a very short time frame. The UK quickly patented vaccines for Covid-19 in 300days but we need to bring that down to under 100 days to help keep people safe and well.”
Working in collaboration with Lakes BioScience and global life sciences leader Cytiva, NHC is helping to develop world first treatments to be used across the globe.
Dr Vanderhoven said: “We are at the forefront of training those people manufacturing these life-changing pharmaceuticals and doing a lot of research to drive down the cost of treatments.
“It’s about manufacturing life-saving vaccines and medicines faster and making them more affordable.”
The advanced training methods will ensure the North of England is a hotbed for bioscience technology, and will boost the UK’s biopharmaceutical production.
Lakes BioScience aims to support the needs of a growing biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, and develop pioneering treatments.
Pat McIver, a director at Lakes BioScience, said: “It is the intention of Lakes BioScience to significantly invest in providing high quality training experiences to our workforce so that they can be confident and assured about the highly technical equipment they are going to be working with.
“We believe that by working with NHC and other companies within the sector we can grow and develop the high capabilities of the industry that exist within the North of England, and the UK.
“The UK has the intellectual fire power and the science excellence and leadership in research and engineering, but has slipped behind other countries when it comes to manufacturing. We need to grow the industry to realise the UK ambition to be a powerhouse for the bioscience economy.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the North of England to lead the way in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, and pave the way for the UK to showcase its capabilities to the rest of the world.”