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A new national infrastructure for verifying bioprocessing technologies

the Testa Center

The Testa Center, a new Swedish test-bed infrastructure focused on biopharmaceutical manufacturing, will open June 2018 at GE Healthcare’s Uppsala site.

The new center is part of the Swedish government’s initiative to further accelerate the country as one of the global leaders in the R&D and production of biopharmaceutical products. It is a collaboration project with GE Healthcare with the aim to establish a testbed for discovery and verifying innovative bioprocessing technologies. It 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.

Test Center on tour

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.

Common needs

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 Healthcare

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”.

Kristin Hellman, Project Manager Uppsala BIO, leads work on Testa Center’s external processes. Photo: UppsalaBIO