Downstream test facility set to address scale-up issues and keep investment in UK

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

The centre opened last week at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Image c/o IBioIC
The centre opened last week at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Image c/o IBioIC

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A downstream centre in Scotland will allow local biotechs to test product scale-up without outsourcing overseas, while complementing other Government-funded bioprocessing projects in the UK.

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) opened a large-scale downstream bioprocessing centre at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland last week, aimed at helping companies test manufacturing scale-up and equipment needs ahead of a product’s commercialisation.

According to spokesperson Ashley Jackson, biotechs will be able to save on the high expense of a pilot scale operation through the Centre’s communal approach, offering the equipment needed to test concepts before committing to a scale-up investment.

Furthermore, the new Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre – known as FlexBio – will stop UK-based firms outsourcing abroad, keeping the estimated £900m ($1.3bn) by 2025 of local biotech investment within Scotland.

FlexBio has capabilities for bacterial, algal and mammalian cell culture products with a scale of between 15 to 100L and houses downstream equipment including:

-          GE Healthcare’s ÄKTA avant preparative chromatography system

-          Gea’s Westfalia FSD 1 06 107 separation system, equipped with a Westfalia Separator® soft stream inlet system

-          Sartorius Sartoflow Advanced modular benchtop crossflow system for ultrafiltration, microfiltration and diafiltration applications

The £1.7m facility “is the second Equipment Centre IBioIC has launched, the first being the Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre at University of Strathclyde,”​ Jackson told, all part of a £2.7m investment from the Scottish Funding Council.

“The Centre’s are open access to academia and businesses of all sizes and preferential rates are given to members of IBioIC. Both of these facilities have been designed to be complementary to other facilities which exist around the UK such as the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) for example.”

The CPI opened a £38m National Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Darlington in October last year​, as one of several UK Government investments in bioprocessing. The UK’s Cell Therapy Catapult is currently building a £55m large-scale manufacturing plant in Stevenage​ offering late-stage cell therapy capabilities set to open next year.

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