Open for Business: First courses launch at state-of-the-art Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Skills and Training Laboratories in Stevenage


London UK, 29th November 2022 – Based at the heart of the cell and gene therapy cluster in Stevenage, the opening of the Skills and Training Laboratories heralds an exciting new era for skills development in the UK’s advanced therapies sector.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) were pleased to welcome the first cohorts into the new laboratories from November 16th, when “Biomanufacturing and Advanced Therapies for Non-Biologists” was the opening course, with attendees that, amongst others, included employees from key industry companies.

Supported by £3m of Getting Building Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (HLEP), our new Skills and Training Laboratories (STL) offer access to state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and technology and provide Good Manufacturing Practice orientated upskilling and capability* solutions to a range of organisations including CGT Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre Collaborators, the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst community and the wider Bioindustry. The STL will complement the award-winning work already delivered nationally through the Advanced ​Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC) and the Advanced Therapies Skills and Training ​Network (ATSTN). Importantly, it will also help to develop a pipeline of local talent in and around Stevenage and Hertfordshire through working with the local authority, local businesses, schools, further and higher education.

Over the coming months, local collaborating Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) and biomanufacturing organisations will participate in STL run courses ranging from fundamental lab skills to bioprocessing techniques and quality control training. In partnership with HFL Education, STL hosted its first local talent event on 22nd November with a career insights day for 60 local students.

*The CGT Catapult2021 Skills Demand Survey highlighted the need for sector skills development, with 98% of respondents anticipating staff growth by 2026 and agreeing that skills is a significant challenge to their business, of which 74% expect the growth to be in bioprocessing roles. Indeed, the overall headcount for the sector is expected to rise from around 7,000 currently to 15,000 over the next 4 years – 10,000 of these positions are expected to be in bioprocessing alone, and to help meet the demands of this buoyant industry landscape, the need for a world class skills and training facility was identified and formally delivered in Stevenage today.

Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive of CGT Catapult, said:

“The Skills and Training Laboratories are CGT Catapult’s newest initiative representing its commitment to building a thriving industry and delivering life-changing advanced therapies to the worldIt will also help to drive the talent pipeline locally, furthering the development of the Stevenage community, and with the support of the Hertfordshire LEP, consolidate the county’s cell and gene therapy ecosystem as a global hub for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) manufacture.

Dianne Lee, Chair of Hertfordshire LEP’s Life Sciences Industry Panel, said:

“The continued success of Hertfordshire’s globally significant cell and gene therapy cluster is dependent on our collective commitment to nurturing the specialist skills needed by the businesses looking to locate and grow here and providing the space they need to scale up.

“Not only does the STL provide a critical skills training capability, it gives small businesses within the ecosystem access to state-of-the-art equipment and training software, while offering local residents and young people an invaluable opportunity to kick-start a career in one of the most exciting and revolutionary fields within life sciences.

“We are proud to partner with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult once again to support the development of this cutting-edge sector which is bringing the next generation of life-saving medical treatments to market.”

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