CGT Catapult: Developing and growing UK advanced therapies workforce is key priority

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Reptile8488
© GettyImages/Reptile8488

Related tags advanced therapy medicinal products ATMPs cell and gene therapy

Enhancing the skills of employees working in the UK’s advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP) sector and the broader cell and gene therapy industry is mission critical for the CGT Catapult.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) has just published its Annual Review​ 2022. It covers the 12-month period from April 2021 to March 2022.

The continued expansion and strengthening of the workforce in the cell and gene therapy and bioprocess industries is essential for the UK to maintain its world-leading position, it reported.

More than 5,000 people in the UK have been up-skilled and supported through CGT Catapult-led initiatives during the review period, with total sector employment up by 133% since 2019, according to the organization.

“With rapid growth comes increasing demand for the skills and talent needed to sustain it. The CGT Catapult is dedicated to developing and growing the UK advanced therapies workforce so that it remains responsive and adaptable to industry needs – and that therapy developers remain confident in the UK as an attractive location to establish new activities,”​ reads the review.

Funds raised 

The report also highlighted the 31% growth year on year in funds raised by UK-based ATMP developers, up to £1.7bn (US$2.02bn), and the 25% increase in ATMP manufacturing space in the UK.

The driving force behind this continued success, and the key to sustained industry expansion and innovation, is the ongoing and increasing number of partnerships in the development of these potentially life-changing therapies, noted the report. “Between April 2021 and March 2022, the CGT Catapult has helped to forge 154 of these collaborations both in the UK and internationally, and from across the industrial and academic spectrum. These partnerships encompass all aspects of ATMP development, to boost capabilities and secure the continued development of treatments, from supporting research and manufacturing to vital skills training.”

In 2022, 32% of European ATMP companies had operations within the UK.

Ian McCubbin, chairman of CGT Catapult, said the organization continues to see significant growth year on year in the number of clinical trials of advanced therapies that are taking place in the UK. “Our 9% global share for ATMP studies remains much higher than for conventional therapies.”

cgt catapult
UK ATMP industry growth and CGT Catapult impact © CGT Catapult Annual Review 2022

Government backing

On-going support from Innovate UK and the wider government has been critical, he stressed.

“The government has further backed the sector, having designated Stevenage as a High Potential opportunity Zone by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Stevenage cell and gene therapy cluster has further expanded over the last year. It has also been instrumental in funding the ongoing work of the Advanced Therapies Treatment Centres (ATTC) and the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).”

Funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), administered through Innovate UK, was fundamental to the CGT Catapult acquisition of the Braintree Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MIC) as well, he added. “Since then, we have already seen the creation of 200 high-skilled jobs in the local area, and collaborators are now accessing cutting-edge technological capabilities for the CGT Catapult on the site.”

The CGT Catapult has, since its inception, sought to add additional value to the cell and gene therapy field by identifying opportunities and projects that complement the work of the industry in developing and manufacturing ATMPs, said Dr Jonathan Appleby, its chief scientific officer.

In 2021/22, this approach has seen the CGT Catapult continue to focus efforts on understanding and characterizing new ATMPs, on developing safer, more efficient processes for such therapeutic products in clinical studies, and on innovation in cell and gene therapy manufacturing, he said. “We work with our collaborators to broadly disseminate this knowledge and know-how to the benefit of UK industry and academia.”

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