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Tees Valley-based National Horizons Centre, RoslinCT and the University of Birmingham will deliver cell and gene therapy and vaccine manufacturing specific on-site and digital training capabilities, as part of the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

The National Horizons Centre, RoslinCT and the University of Birmingham have been selected as preferred bidders to deliver high impact physical and digitally-delivered training courses as part of the growing ATSTN programme. The three centres bring with them complementing capabilities and a vast wealth of experience across GMP/GxP, manufacturing and bioprocessing, and their expertise within virtual reality training will prove instrumental for driving the successful development of cell and gene therapy as well as vaccine manufacturing staff across the UK, through the delivery of these industry-leading training courses.

A core aim of the ATSTN is to develop National Training Centres to deliver specialist on-site courses, including innovative digital training utilising virtual reality, providing learners with the hands-on expertise and experience to succeed in the advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing sector. The ATSTN programme also includes an Online Training Platform focused on upskilling existing staff within the industry and a Career Converter which measures an individual’s transferable skills from outside the sector and recommends applicable roles within advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing.

Based on the findings from the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s (CGT Catapult) Skills Demand Survey 2019, 83% of ATMP and vaccine manufacturing companies raised concerns that the recruitment and retention of skilled talent will be an important issue which slows down or delays their forecasted manufacturing expansions. As such, a coherent national training offering for core manufacturing skills was requested by industry, in order to drive the required uptake of skilled talent at all levels and allow the UK sector to reach their full potential.

The ATSTN programme, which launched on 2nd December, is backed by £4.7m in funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) alongside Innovate UK (IUK), and is driven by industry and coordinated by the CGT Catapult. The involvement of the National Horizons Centre, RoslinCT and the University of Birmingham demonstrates how responsive the industry is in supporting the programme, to drive excellence and advance the connectivity and diversity of its training resources in partnership with academia.

Dr Jen Vanderhoven, Director at the National Horizons Centre said: “Collaboration is the key to success, and I am delighted that the National Horizons Centre (NHC) has been chosen as one of the national ATSTN centres to provide the vital training of the future advanced therapies and vaccines workforce. The NHC, with its leading expertise and state of the art bioprocessing and virtual reality capabilities, is perfectly positioned to up-skill and cross-skill hundreds of people in the coming months. We will deliver the necessary technical hands-on training to create the workforce needed to manufacture vaccines and advanced therapies, to overcome COVID-19 and any future pandemics and diseases. We look forward to collaboratively working with the other Centres and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, to create a truly world-class offering that puts the UK at the forefront of ATMP and vaccine manufacturing.”

Posted on 22nd December 2020