A unique programme to develop the next generation of bioscientists has been launched with Tees Valley college students introduced to a career in the life sciences.
The first cohort of the Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy saw students from Darlington College spending a week at Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre, hearing from their biotech experts, and colleagues from CPI’s National Biologics Manufacturing Centre.
This was followed with a week working alongside staff from pharmaceutical manufacturer FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.
The Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy, which has received £50,0000 funding from the Tees Valley mayor and combined authority, is a partnership between the National Horizons Centre, CPI and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.
It will allow the students to gain first-hand experience of what a career in the life sciences might look like.
After this initial pilot cohort, the programme will be expanded out to other further education colleges in the Tees Valley.
During their time at the National Horizons Centre, the students developed a business case, based around different types of vaccines, which was then used in their week with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies staff.
Participants moved around all the departments of the organisation, talking to employees about their business plan, assessing the different potential vaccines, and ultimately deciding which one they think is the best.
At the conclusion of the programme, the students were assigned a mentor who they will meet with for the remainder of their studies.
The Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy ultimately aims to create a 10-year pipeline of industrially-relevant trained employees for Tees Valley organisations, to help embed the region’s burgeoning reputation as a world-leading destination for the life sciences industry.
Dr Jen Vanderhoven, director of the National Horizons Centre, a UK centre of excellence for the bioscience industries based at Teesside University’s Darlington campus at Central Park, said: “At the National Horizons Centre one of our key aims is to develop the vital skills that are needed to ensure that the bioscience industry in this region is capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has show just how vital this sector and there is a wealth of amazing opportunities available in the sector that can make a real difference to society.
“We are delighted therefore to be able to give students first-hand industry experience through the Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy which will, we hope, ultimately enable them to pursue rewarding and fulfilling careers in life sciences.”
Dr Arun Harish, strategy director at CPI, said: “CPI is delighted to be a partner in the Life Sciences Manufacturing Academy.
“Supporting UK Biosciences industry is a key priority for CPI and we have an excellent opportunity to achieve this growth here in the Tees Valley.
“Through this partnership, CPI will add its complementary innovation capabilities to support the increasingly important challenge around future proofing the UK workforce and growing the skills base for the burgeoning life sciences sector.”
Carole Todd, deputy principal at Darlington College, added: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of giving the future generation of scientists such valuable experience from our local sector specialists.
“It will give our students a real insight in to careers within bio science, allow them to make respected contacts within the Industry and inspire them to apply real work experience to their coursework to help them excel in their programme of study.”