In September 2017 CPI hosted a Strategic Training Awards for Research (STAR) Skills Schools aimed at early career researchers, such as PhD students or early-stage post docs, in the biopharmaceutical industry.
The aim of this course was to prepare early career researchers for leadership roles in the biomanufacturing sector. The Skills School is funded by BBSRC through the STAR programme, which aims to support the development of strategically important and valuable research skills and capabilities in the biosciences, and is the first Skills School of a three-year programme.
The residential programme was designed around real-life industrial perspective, involving case studies that ran throughout the whole week. Its format, with master classes, lectures and case studies, was intensive and demanding, directing participants to understand the benefits of effective teamwork and maximise leadership potential for careers in industry and academia. During the week, the students were also offered tours of Fujifilm’s biologics manufacturing site as well as CPI’s facilities. These tours were greatly valued by the students.
“Many of the students were surprised to see how big an industrial setting is,” said Dr Joanne Flannelly, Business Development Manager, BioProNET. “They were looking at 5000 L bioreactors, when they are used to working at the bench with perhaps 1 L volumes, or even small test tubes. It was really interesting for them to see the scale-up to manufacturing level.”
The programme was arranged by the BioProNET (a network in the field of bioprocessing and biologics that brings together academics, industrialists and others for collaborative research and events) in collaboration with CPI and the University of Manchester, and was held at CPI´s National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, a national centre with a remit to help train future industry leaders. The industrial setting and outstanding meeting facilities provided an excellent location to host the 15 students, who were all endorsed by their supervisors to attend this one-week course.
“I think the students really enjoyed the Skills School and having the opportunity to see something different to what they are normally involved with,” said Dr Richard Alldread, Head of Innovation at CPI Biologics. “The participants normally spend a lot of their time in the lab, but during this course they got to see the industrial side of their field, as well as developing other skills such as teambuilding, presentation techniques and commercialisation processes.”
The course was certainly very well received by the participants, whose comments during the course evaluation included: “A comprehensive experience, enjoyable and challenging!” “Important for my career development, fantastic experience!” “Excellent experience learning about teamwork and bioprocessing!” “Great experience, motivating, great opportunity to nurture and build connections!”