University, government, and industry partner for new biotech facility

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has opened a new biotech production and training facility.

The Biologicals Innovation Facility (BIF) is the result of a partnership between UTS, the NSW government and GE Healthcare.

The facility includes clean rooms and containment laboratories which will house research into and the development of biopharmaceuticals.

Courses for students will be augmented with the facility’s technology, while businesses seeking to pilot and test products can also have access to the facility.

The BIF will utilise GE’s KUBio modular biopharmaceutical production technology. The technology is designed to cut down on project timelines while still using the benefits of single-use technology. Monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant products will be manufactured on the 1 x 200L process, which can be scaled up to a 1000L process, if demand is strong enough.

UTS vice-chancellor, Professor Attila Brungs, noted the benefits that BIF will bring to the local biologics sector.

“I expect this facility will be key to addressing local skills shortages and ensuring the brightest and most talented scientists and engineers stay locally, allowing Australia to capture a multibillion dollar share of a rapidly expanding biologics market while also making real world impact in the area of biologics,” said Brungs.

The value of such a facility was highlighted by GE Healthcare Life Sciences CEO, Emmanuel Ligner.

“This place is an ideal environment for both startups and established companies to scale and refine their processes, bringing advanced therapies and personalised medicines to market faster and more efficiently,” said Ligner.

The $11.5 million facility was supported by $750,000 from the NSW Boosting Business Innovation Program and $1.2m from the National Collaborative Research infrastructure Strategy.

The facility is one of a kind in the region, and according to UTS dean of science, Professor Dianne Jolley, the site is the “only South East Asian node to deliver training programs from the National Institute of Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT).”

NIBRT, based in Ireland, is recognised as a global centre of excellence in the field of biopharma training.

With such connections, Jolley hopes that the facility strengthens Australia’s reputation in medical manufacturing.

“Australian-made pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals enjoy a reputation for quality, traceability and trust and this innovative facility will help keep Australia globally competitive,” said Jolley.