The $2.9m (€2.6m) Undergraduate Education grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be used to set up the centre at Austin Community College (ACC), with aims to grow the number of well-trained technicians in the workforce and meet the needs of the bioprocessing industry throughout the state.
“Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry in Central Texas and across the nation,” said Linnea Fletcher, ACC biotechnology department chair. “Our goal is to establish best practices and share resources such as curriculum, equipment, and teaching methods with other community colleges and universities across the state.”
The grant will also be used to create internship and externship programmes to help bring academia closer to industry in the State.
“We’re developing the workforce that will meet the growing biotech demands from regulatory affairs, and stem cell maintenance to biotechnology-related renewable energy technology and biopharming,” Fletcher added.
Earlier this month, Texas A&M announced it was looking to recruit bioprocessing students and was seeking former military personnel who it deemed would be “particularly suited to the work.”
The growth of the bioprocessing industry is reliant on having skilled workers available, and therefore a number of Governments and companies have been investing in biomanufacturing education and training programmes.
Ireland, for example, has always been a global hub of small molecule manufacture but has dealt with a shifting emphasis towards biologics in part through the Government’s €60m creation of the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT).
The centre, located in Dublin, has been described as “a flight simulator for biopharma manufacturing” and is backed by industry which is benefitting from the local talent trained there .
Meanwhile in India – another region synonymous with small molecule API manufacture - there has been some concern that a lack of skilled workers is holding back a burgeoning biomanufacturing industry.
India-based biopharma firm Biocon formed, therefore, an academy devoted solely to bioscience education and discovery to help bridge the gap between a lack of lack talent and industry’s future needs.