National Horizons Centre expands as National Training Centre for the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN)

The National Horizons Centre will provide hands-on training for advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) and vaccine manufacture, focusing on Good Practice (GxP) manufacturing, process development and bioprocessing techniques.

Further to the announcement as a preferred bidder in December 2020, the National Horizons Centre (NHC) has been confirmed today as one of the initial three National Training Centres that will deliver on-site advanced therapies and vaccine manufacturing specific practical and digital training as part of the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN) UK wide initiative.

The ATSTN was awarded £2.5m from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver National Training Centres across the UK to help develop specific practical skills to address the growing need in vaccine and advanced therapies manufacturing. These centres are 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 NHC, in Darlington, is a £22m centre of excellence for the bioscience industries. With research, partnerships and training at its core, the NHC brings together industry, academia, talent and world-class facilities to drive innovation. In addition to its hands-on training, the NHC will also create a virtual reality (VR) training facility, which will host 4 VR stations alongside a tutor demonstration station, this capability will be used in conjunction with the NHC laboratory and teaching facilities to deliver the training courses.

Training will be available at the centre starting from May 2021, with courses covering Upstream and Downstream Bioprocessing, Analytical techniques for Bioprocessing, Process Control and Automation, Viral Vector Manufacturing, Biologics Manufacturing, Data Integrity, Computer Systems Validation and IT compliance, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for Biologics, Practical Proteomics, and Flow cytometry for bioprocessing.

The National Training Centres complement the other two parts of the ATSTN programme namely 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.

The ATSTN programme, which launched on 2nd December 2020, 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.

Matthew Durdy, CEO at Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult said:

The UK cell and gene industry is a great place for people to build their future. We want to see that opportunity opened up to everyone. With its cutting-edge training facilities, the National Horizons Centre will be an integral part of the Advanced Therapy Skills Training Network’s unique offering to anyone in the UK who wants to advance their career in advanced therapies.

Dr Jen Vanderhoven, Director of the National Horizons Centre, commented:

With the rush to develop and deliver a Covid-19 vaccine, the importance of the biomanufacturing and bioprocessing sectors has never been so apparent. We’ve worked very closely with leading figures across the bioindustry sector to ensure that each of these courses will address the requisite technical and digital needs. We pride ourselves on our ability to be responsive to the sector’s needs, so we’re very pleased to have been able to react quickly and develop these courses which will deliver vital skills needed for vaccine manufacturing and advanced therapies and to grow this important industry.

Read more about the National Horizon’s Centre here.