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.”
Lakes BioScience signs an agreement with Cytiva to initiatethe development of a world leading life sciences factory
Lakes BioScience has signed an agreement with Cytiva - a global life sciences leader dedicated to advancing and accelerating therapeutics - to help initiate the implementation of innovative workflows at Lakes BioScience’s factory in Ulverston, Cumbria.
Cytiva brings speed, efficiency and capacity to research and biomanufacturing workflows, enabling the development, manufacture and delivery of transformative medicines to patients.
Margret Oland, Business Development Manager Enterprise Solutions at Cytiva, said: “We are delighted to partner with Lakes BioScience in helping them optimize their manufacturing processes.”
Lakes BioScience will manufacture antibody therapies at a specially designed and built plant, which will link-up with the UK’s leading network of biopharma research and development organisations as well as learning and training institutions.
Margret said: “It’s a beneficial relationship for both. We want to be part of Lakes BioScience’s exciting journey.
“The Lakes BioScience management team’s extensive knowledge and hands-on expertise provides a strong level of trust in their success. They are visionaries and want to do things differently. The team is on the same path as us and their roadmap for operating excellence in the digital space is in line with ours. We both want to be very flexible and agile, using digital tools.
“With a blank canvas they can put all this in place from the start. They can be the operation they want to be from the start which brings lots of possibilities and opportunities to grow with the future needs of therapeutics.
“Starting from scratch gives you the opportunity to operate differently and implement new ways of working and gives you the ability to introduce new technologies.”
Margret said mutual benefit is at the heart of the way the collaboration with Lakes BioScience will work and will deliver benefits for patients and industry partners as well as those who will take up 250 new highly-skilled jobs at the £350m factory.
Margret said: “For Cytiva it is always about the patient. Our vision and mission is to enhance access to life-changing therapies. That is the same for Lakes BioScience. The medicines are for the treatment of people.
“The added benefit is the social impact of providing highly skilled jobs in the UK and we will achieve that through this collaboration.
“Talented employees are at the forefront of any successful business.
However, today, there is not a strong pool of existing talent for this type of manufacturing. By collaborating with the National Horizons Centre at Darlington we will develop training programs for operators. Taking this 360 degree approach is important to securing future talent.
“Lakes BioScience brings partners together in a way which shows that by working collaboratively they can lead the industry by moving fast and doing things properly.
“The digital space is changing the whole industry and we have designed one of the few operations which can develop the treatments needed.
“Through the collaboration between Lakes BioScience and Cytiva we are ready to be up and running and to be operational fast.”
Margret says linking up with Lakes BioScience makes sense in terms of the shared knowledge and expertise, Cytiva’s ambitions in the UK market, and the opportunity to take the industry in an exciting new direction.
Margret said: “The UK has a history of innovation in biotechnology and this operation has the ambition to be one of the leaders in biotechnology and bioprocessing.
“A lot is happening in the UK right now. The UK wants to be self-sufficient with Brexit and this technology is needed.”
“Life Sciences has been a strong focus during the pandemic but up until now a lot of the manufacturing has been outside the UK. That focus is now shifting to retain that innovation and talent within the UK.
“This is a growth industry for the UK. As a company with a strong presence in the UK we, at Cytiva, want to be a part of that.
“It’s extremely exciting what the whole collaboration between Lakes BioScience and Cytiva will bring to the industry in terms of capability and solutions.”
Derek Willison-Parry, CEO of Lakes BioScience, said: “The Lakes BioScience business is going to create a global CDMO which is able to be dynamic and agile in its UK manufacturing capability to meet changing
market requirements. Our initial manufacturing capability will include monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) therapies, mRNA vaccines and biosimilars.”
Adrian Wallis, Lakes BioScience’s Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, said: “Project Apex is the first part of our overall Lakes BioScience strategy.
Our intention is to invest up to £350m in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility which uses up to 12 x 2,000-litre bioreactors.
“We have made substantial progress in the feasibility, concept and basic design work with the support of our world-class partners including Cytiva.
“This upfront investment and work enable the project to be achieved at lightning speed over an 18-month period.
“Project Apex is the first part of our overall, and ambitious, strategy which ultimately will increase capability threefold with a further two buildings. This is the start of something really big and exciting.”
PHARMACEUTICAL giant GSK is backing plans by Lakes BioScience to build a £350m biomanufacturing plant in Ulverston, Cumbria.
Lakes BioScience’s proposals will create 250 high-value, high-tech jobs at a £350m state-of-the-art factory producing monoclonal antibodies.
At a taskforce meeting in Ulverston chaired by Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell, GSK highlighted its support for Lakes BioScience’s proposed development which is just yards from GSK’s site.
Lakes BioScience has received planning permission from South Lakeland District Council to start work at the site and has received widespread support for its plans.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also indicated he is supportive of the bioscience industry in the UK. In answer to a question from Mr Fell during Prime Minister’s Questions last month, Mr Johnson told The House of Commons he sees bioscience as “one of the great growth areas for this country” and said Barrow and Furness should “take part in the boom”.
Lakes BioScience, which has secured £350m funding for its proposals, is now looking to secure a key contract which will kickstart its plans for the site.
In the latest development GSK has now pledged to help Lakes BioScience in its efforts to secure that contract which will unlock the potential for Ulverston to become a centre of biopharma manufacturing excellence with a purpose-built factory developing modern medicines.
GSK announced in February its plan to sell its Cephalosporin antibiotics business (the site at Ulverston and part of its facility in Barnard Castle) to Sandoz and close these operations once manufacturing has transferred in approximately 2025.
Lakes BioScience’s development is seen as an opportunity to secure economic growth as well as giving the UK more resilience in its supply of modern medicines and achieving objectives of the levelling up agenda of providing high value jobs in the north of England.
Mr Fell, who chairs the task force, reported from Thursday’s meeting that GSK had confirmed this further support for Lakes BioScience, whose plans are aligned to local and national economic objectives.
Mr Fell said: “GSK will provide business development guidance and technical support for the organisation (Lakes BioScience) and share their expertise and networks with the company in order to bolster their efforts to secure a keystone contract. This will create opportunities for job creation in Ulverston and retain vital skills in the community.
“The support for Lakes BioScience paves the way for maintaining, and growing, life science jobs in Ulverston.
“Lakes BioScience offers a real opportunity not just to secure life science jobs and skills in our community, but to grow them too. Securing this support from GSK and from the Government is a crucial step towards securing a lasting and meaningful legacy for Ulverston.”
GSK has also said it will continue to support employees and the local community, including delivering previous commitments on its apprenticeship programme and provision of funds (£500,000) to support local businesses with local job creation. All funds have now been granted and the initiatives have helped to create and secure 238 jobs.
Following Thursday’s Taskforce meeting GSK has opened formal consultation with employees to provide transparency about the likely outcomes and will be arranging briefings with staff in the coming weeks.
GSK has reconfirmed its previous commitment to donate land to South Lakeland District Council, including the creation of a masterplan with project management support to help understand the best options available for the land. Its donation of £2m for the Ulverston sports centre has also been confirmed.
Mr Fell said: “I am grateful for the way that GSK has continued to engage constructively with the taskforce and Ministers in our efforts to secure a lasting legacy for Ulverston following February’s announcement.
“These commitments from GSK are most welcome. The open engagement with existing staff to secure their terms and conditions shows a clear commitment to the welfare of their employees. And the public commitment to continuing with the land donation, financial support for the sports centre, and masterplanning for the site provides certainty.
“These are concrete and welcome steps. The Taskforce will now focus on two activities – agreeing a vision for the future of the site and surrounding area, and agreeing its priorities for community support.”
Pat McIver, director of Lakes BioScience, said: “We very much welcome GSK’s commitment to support Lakes BioScience’s plans. GSK’s help with business development guidance and technical support and their willingness to share their expertise and networks with Lakes BioScience will boost our efforts to secure a
keystone contract which will unlock the huge potential of our development.
“This represents a fantastic opportunity to stop what would be a decline in UK medicine manufacturing capability and demonstrate what levelling up can deliver for the north of England, for Cumbria and for Ulverston.”