During its first year the bioprocess pilot-scale facility in Uppsala has hosted fifteen national and international projects and more than 2 000 study visits.
The not-for-profit innovation center and testbed for bio-manufacturing is an initiative between the Swedish Government and GE Healthcare Life Sciences. The aim is to support collaboration between academia, businesses and the public sector, as well as to boost commercialization of new technologies. The Swedish government has invested around EUR 10 million through Vinnova, while GE Healthcare Life Sciences has invested around EUR 4.5 million.
“Biologics is a major part of present and future medicine, and an open platform like the Testa Center shows that Sweden is at the forefront of this,” says Jenni Nordborg, National Coordinator and Director at the Office for Life Sciences, Government Offices of Sweden.
Testa Center, located at GE Healthcare Life Sciences in Uppsala, is equipped with four cell culture and protein purification laboratories, where new discoveries can be tested. Fifteen projects from Scandinavia have so far benefited from the center, with the projects ranging from scale-up and purification activities, educational programs, and digital verification to GE Healthcare Life Sciences programs and training, states Testa Center.
Accelerating time to clinical trials
The first biotech company to run a project at Testa Center was BioLamina, which used the facility to scale-up its production capacity and deliver more reagents to its global customer base. “It gave us the possibility to simultaneously design and establish the process in-house, which significantly shortened the project timeline,” says Ludwina Retzer, Head of Production at BioLamina.
Uppsala-based start-up company Ilya Pharma has also run a project at Testa Center. The company has developed a technology platform based on the use of living lactic acid bacteria and is dedicated to developing biological drugs for treating wounds in skin and mucosa. Through co-financing from Swelife, Ilya Pharma was given the opportunity to validate its manufacturing process on a large scale and to build valuable industrial knowledge at Testa Center. “This opportunity is an add-on project for us, where we can significantly reduce risk and accelerate time to the clinical trial and also in the whole drug development process. For biologic medical products, a stable manufacturing process is key,” said Evelina Vågsjö, CEO of Ilya Pharma, before entering Testa Center. When their project was completed, she stated that the center helped them to reduce the risk in the project and enhanced their journey towards clinical trials. “It has also helped us secure financing for the project,” she added.
The first digital health company
Finnish company SciAR was the first company to test digital products at the center. The company creates software for Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) to take human errors out of the equation in life science laboratories. Their technology can be used for personalized medicine and faster development of new biopharmaceutical drugs.
At Testa Center the company has tested their minimum valuable product and two other pilots. They aim to demonstrate that AR can streamline the workflow and prevent unfortunate errors, as errors can be extremely costly in this type of work. “The facility is great, both the fact that it is a cooperation between industry, academia and the government, and that it should be open for innovation,” said Joel Noutere, CEO, SciAR.