A new National Training Centre has been opened in Darlington which will take advanced therapy and vaccine manufacturing to new heights.
Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre is one of three designated training partners which will deliver high impact on-site and digital training as part of the Advanced Therapies Skills Training network (ATSTN).
The National Horizons Centre hosted the official opening of the three ATSTN National Training Centres (NTCs) initiative at a special event with representatives from the three centres: National Horizons Centre, RoslinCT and the University of Birmingham.
Attendees heard how these NTCs bring with them complementing capabilities and a wealth of experience across GMP/GxP manufacturing and bioprocessing and delivering virtual reality training.
These topics collectively address the growing need in the UK for specialist skills in vaccine and advanced therapy manufacturing.
By providing specific on-site and digital training capabilities the NTCs will provide people with advanced career opportunities and access to essential training, helping to expand the advanced therapy and vaccine manufacturing workforce.
The ATSTN initiative is backed by £4.7m in funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is driven by industry and coordinated by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.
The ATSTN programme will help grow the sector by creating economic opportunities for new jobs and industry-driven learning.
With the industry workforce expected to double to more than 6,000 by 2024, this programme is further evidence of the Government’s commitment to expanding the UK expertise in advanced therapies.
Director of the National Horizons Centre, Dr Jen Vanderhoven, said: “We’re delighted to be partner in the ATSTN and we are already developing a series of training programmes which will deliver vital skills for UK bioindustry.
“Collaboration sits at the heart of everything we do and so we’re looking forward to working alongside our colleagues at the other two NTCs and delivering high-impact interventions to ensure that the sector has the workforce capabilities to meet the challenges of the future.”
Steve Bagshaw CBE, industry advisor to the UK Vaccines Taskforce and chief industry advisor at the National Horizons Centre, said: “It’s great to see these three partners come together as part of the ATSTN.
“Utilising the key strengths of the three NTCs, the UK has put together something which I believe is truly world-class.”
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “These new training centres – backed by £4.7 million from the UK Government for the ATSTN initiative – will boost much-needed skills and expertise across the life sciences sector, particularly in vaccine and advanced therapy manufacturing.
“Supporting our world-leading life sciences sector is crucial, having not only been vital throughout the pandemic, but setting us on course to build back better.”
Matthew Durdy, chief executive officer at Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, added: “With the continued growth of the UK advanced therapy industry and the ever-growing need for advanced therapies, the launch of these NTCs is a crucial step in ensuring the UK’s future capability to meet the demand is met.
“The ATSTN initiative was built on a foundation of collaboration, and the partnerships that have been developed to date, both with industry and academia, is proof of that.
“We are proud of the progress that has been made since the launch of the ATSTN and are confident that the launch of the NTCs will have meaningful impact on our mission to upskill the UK workforce to develop and manufacture vaccines and advanced therapies at scale.”
The NTCs complement the other two parts of the ATSTN programme including the Online Training Platform, focused on upskilling existing staff within the industry; and the Career Converter, which matches an individual’s transferable skills from outside the sector and recommends applicable roles within advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing.