The collaboration will establish a centre for production technology development in Toronto. GE and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario will provide a total of C$40m ($28m) to support the project.
Phil Vanek, general manager of cell therapy techs at GE, told us “The Centre will provide the industry with process development facilities and expertise, helping its members and clients establish and optimize industrial-scale manufacturing workflows as well as develop new, cutting edge technologies to help solve emerging technical challenges in those same workflows.
"The Centre aims to work closely with cell therapy companies to translate scientific discoveries into marketable products for patients, and potentially develop advanced technologies to solve the problems which arise along the way."
Ownership of the technologies will vary project to project Vanek said, explaining that “developers will need to own the IP required to commercialize their therapies... in other cases GE, CCRM, or a 3rd party might own, buy or license the IP from different technologies brought to and developed in the Center.”
Developing manufacturing technologies is nothing new for GE.
However, the opportunity to involve end-users in the process was a motivation for establishing the collaboration according to Vanek.
“The old-fashioned way of product and technology development is changing. In the past, companies would ask customers a list of key questions and develop products in isolation. Today, clinicians and therapy producers are moving much more quickly, creating a need for real-time, real-world laboratory testing.
GE’s support for the Toronto centre is in keeping with its involvement in a collaboration with UK Government–backed organisation Cell Therapy Catapult in the UK.
In December 2014, GE pledged to provide technology for the £55m ($86m) national cell therapy manufacturing centre that is being built in Stevenage, UK.