During December, representatives for the new Swedish test-bed infrastructure focused on biopharmaceutical manufacturing have been on tour to spread the word about what it is and whom it’s for. Now officially named Testa Center, it will open June 2018 at GE Healthcare’s Uppsala site.
Sweden’s government wants to further accelerate the country as one of the global leaders in the research, development and production of biopharmaceutical products. Part of this initiative is the collaboration with GE Healthcare around ‘Testa Center’ – a testbed for discovery and verifying innovative bioprocessing technologies – that has received funding from the government through its innovation agency Vinnova. The goal is to create an open and structured workplace where academic research groups, start-ups, SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) and larger companies can verify technical or biological innovations in an authentic bioprocessing environment. Testa Center will be ready to receive its first ‘customer’ projects in the autumn of 2018.
Visits to Lund and Gothenburg
In order for academic researchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as innovation support actors, to start planning how best to make use of this new test-bed, its project management has travelled around Sweden to talk about the initiative.
“We turned primarily to researchers or entrepreneurs working with technologies that can improve the future manufacture of biopharmaceuticals or other biological products, and who want to test them in a realistic production environment”, says Kristin Hellman, Project Manager Uppsala BIO, who leads work on the new infrastructure’s external processes. Other participants were Lotta Ljungqvist, President & CEO, GE Nordic Region and Testa Center CEO, and Jesper Hedberg, GE Healthcare and Testa Center Project Manager. Medicon Village in Lund and Sahlgrenska Science Park in Gothenburg hosted the meetings.
More than just a test-bed
One common need that arose in both Lund and Gothenburg was that of being able to connect with potential actors relevant for candidate projects, says Kristin Hellman.
“The participants in our meetings are looking for everything from CROs (contract research organisations), who can help with hands-on work in the centre, to consultants offering help spanning regulatory advice to technology development.
Housing solutions were also requested, both for project members and students who may temporarily stay in Uppsala to read courses held ‘on-site’ at Testa Center. Uppsala BIO, Region Uppsala and Uppsala municipality are working intensively to make sure that suitable accommodation is ready when operations start up in the autumn.
GE connection adds exceptional skills
Access to a high-quality equipment environment – four parallel industrial labs (non-GMP compliant) all the way up to pilot-scale and primarily based on single-use technology, coupled with the skills offered by GE Healthcare staff – would not be possible without close collaboration with GE.
“It is difficult to gain access to environments, where users can verify their technology or work on scaling up their processes”, says Kristin Hellman. “If you value testing your innovation in a realistic production environment like that used to manufacture biopharmaceuticals around the world, then Testa Center truly is a great opportunity”.
Testa Center is a national infrastructure. It provides enterprising developers with a cost-effective means to verify their innovative tools and technologies, and set production parameters, prior to investing in equipment or outsourcing.
Testa Center in brief:
- Test bed for technology and biology for biological production
- Located at GE Healthcare's site in Uppsala and will officially be opened in June 2018.
- Part of the Swedish innovation support system, offering easy access to commercialisation support. During a start-up period, the strategic innovation programme SWElife will offer verification resources to academic groups and SMEs.
- Non-profit company owned by GE Healthcare.