Virtual reality training to ensure future workforce needs

26 September 2022

A first-of-its-kind pilot to provide augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) training to develop the knowledge and skills needed for a career in Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) development has been launched.

Teaming up to deliver the project is the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) and Miltenyi Biotec.

This cutting-edge training – set to be delivered through the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN) – will enable users to experience technologies and equipment used in process manufacturing. This exciting collaboration showcases the Miltenyi Biotec CliniMACS Prodigy ® - an automated, flexible and closed system which streamlines workflows and can simplify the manufacturing process for immunotherapies.

Marcus Crossley, senior project manager at the AMRC, said: “This VR/AR demonstrator is really pushing the boundaries in showcasing how companies could provide cutting-edge training to people at the start of their career and also upskilling and supporting existing staff members worldwide.

“This is an excellent example of cross-catapult centre collaboration and shows the expertise industry can access within the two organisations. Allowing participants to use state-of-the-art technology greatly enhances their learning experience and adds value by speeding up people’s familiarity and confidence in using the manufacturing equipment. Being able to bring in experts to this immersive experience from anywhere in the world is a very powerful training capability.”

Commenting on the partnership, Matthew Durdy, chief executive of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, said: “The availability of skills and suitably experienced people is a source of international advantage for the UK. We are proud to be working with AMRC and industrial partners like Miltenyi to make sure that the UK is the ‘go to’ place for cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing.”

The AR/VR training programme is being developed as part of the ATSTN, a wider initiative intended to support the future skills needs of the cell and gene therapy industry. This will ensure that the industry has a strong pipeline of highly skilled workers to respond to rapidly growing demand. The immersive training programme has been developed by the AMRC, in collaboration with the CGT Catapult, and will be located in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

Miltenyi Biotec, a global biotechnology company that provides products and services to cell and gene therapy companies, provided technical input into the development of the training ensuring it resembles real-world situations as closely as possible.

‘‘At Miltenyi Biotec Ltd we are committed to providing the highest quality training to the next generation of ATMP scientists,” said Michele Giroux, general manager of Miltenyi Biotec Ltd.

“The work we are doing with CGT Catapult and University of Sheffield AMRC is to develop a VR training platform will help to accelerate this and bring the systems capabilities to the attention of a wider audience. Ultimately, our hope is that this partnership will be instrumental in empowering those entering the ATMP field to gain the skills they need to manufacture these ground-breaking therapies. We are extremely excited to be involved in this project.’’

To find out more information on the CGT, visit: https://ct.catapult.org.uk/

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