Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy will help grow the sector

18 Mar 2021

School-leavers and adult learners are being given the opportunity to experience the potential of a career in life science manufacturing thanks to a new programme being led by the National Horizons Centre.

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The Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy, through the National Horizons Centre, has received £50,000 of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority to allow the next generation of life scientists to gain first-hand experience of what a career in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing sector might look like.

The academy is a partnership between the National Horizons Centre, a national centre of excellence for the bioscience industries, together with CPI and initially also Darlington College, and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.

After the pilot phase the Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy will be expanded out to other colleges in the region and other industry partners.

The first pilot programme will take place over a fortnight later this year, followed by a cohort in early 2022, and will see up to 20 Darlington College students spend a week in the laboratories of the National Horizons Centre and CPI at Central Park in Darlington, gaining hands-on experience working with the state-of-the art equipment alongside leading bio-scientists.

The students will develop a business case which will then be used when they spend a second week with industry, with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies serving as the pilot location. Participants will move around all the departments of the organisation, talking to employees about their business plan.

At the conclusion of the programme, the students will each be assigned a mentor who they will meet with once a month for six months.

Ultimately, the Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy aims to create a ten-year pipeline of industrially relevant trained employees for the region’s organisations, which will help cement the reputation of the North East as the leading destination for life science manufacturing in the UK.

Dr Jen Vanderhoven, Director of the National Horizons Centre, said: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vital the life science manufacturing sectors is to the health and prosperity of the UK.

The Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy will enhance and protect these accomplishments by ensuring that the growth and sustainability of the sector is maintained with a pipeline of talented and engaged employees.”

Kevin Thrower, Learning and Development Manager at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies said: I am very excited that FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies has been part of this inspiring project to give young people the opportunity to experience real life science across the three organisations. It will allow the students to understand how a medicine is identified, researched, and commercially developed and produced. Our goal is to inspire these young people to follow a science related career on Teesside which will not only provide them with a rewarding career, but also add benefit to the region and society.”

Dr Amy Smith of CPI, said: The North East produces 33% of the UK’s GDP in pharmaceutical manufacturing and is a powerhouse in the UK life sciences sector.

This collaboration will enable the next generation of scientists and technologists, to see first-hand what life is like within research, innovation and commercial manufacture settings and will also demonstrate cutting edge technologies, such as those used to make the mRNA vaccines which fight COVID-19.”

Carole Todd, Deputy Principal of Darlington College said: We are delighted and excited to be a part of this project as it will give our science students valuable first-hand experience of developing manufacturing projects within the life sciences sector.

Our students will also benefit from mentoring from industry-based experts which will help steer their career choices.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: The life sciences sector in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is critical to our local economy and the nation’s health. You just have to look at the vital role our region is playing in the fight against the Coronavirus with all 60miliion doses of the Novavax vaccine being produced by FUJIFILM Diosynth in Billingham.

Growing our life sciences sector is an important part of my plan for jobs, and this academy will give students the skills to succeed in this vital sector. By inspiring and training the next generation of scientists, we can continue to secure jobs and investment in this region as we lead the way in the industries of the future.”

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