Photo: Alex & Martin

Uppsala BIO helps Testa Center off to a flying start 

 
In parallel with the construction of Testa Center, another, perhaps not as apparent but equally important activity has been going on: developing the infrastructure and processes needed for the project flow through the centre to run smoothly and to ensure that it is well utilised. Part of this work has been to establish Testa Center as an integral component of the Swedish innovation support system, a mission that suited us at Uppsala BIO very well given our strong national networks. Even before the opening ceremony, we can note that all four labs in Testa Center are more or less fully occupied throughout the autumn!
 

Testa Center invigning
Lotta Ljungqvist, CEO GE Nordics and CEO Testa Center, demonstrates equipment in Testa Center for Mikael Damberg, Minister for enterprise and innovation, and Emmanuel Ligner, CEO GE Healthcare Life Sciences.
Photo: Alex & Martin

Process based on successful BIO-X methodology

Uppsala BIO has developed a process for announcing, selecting and implementing early proof-of-concept projects in life science – BIO-X – which ran successfully for over ten years. This experience, together with the fact that we at Uppsala BIO have strong links with many of Sweden’s innovation environments, prompted us to get involved in developing similar processes and infrastructure together with Testa Center. A mission we gladly took on, as a centre like this has incredible potential for both regional and national growth in life science.
 
During the winter, we have drawn up a process for project application and selection, much of it based on BIO-X methodology. The first step is a feasibility assessment: can the project be carried out in Testa Center, is suitable equipment etc. available, or is there another lab at, for example, a university or commercial partner, that is more appropriate? After passing this assessment, a brief application / project description is developed.

Key role for Advisory Board

The application process itself is managed by Uppsala BIO in close contact with Testa Center staff and there is a good reason for this. Since Testa Center is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GE Healthcare Life Sciences, the US-based company wants to maintain a neutral stance to the projects: it does not want to be responsible for selection, prioritisation or possible funding. This is instead handled by a separate, hand-picked Advisory Board consisting of senior experts with skills from academia and industry. This measure ensures a commercial neutrality towards the projects. The board also advises on which projects will receive access to Swelife’s verification funding, which is available to Testa Center projects during a start-up period.
 
Testa Center thus opens its doors for projects already in August 2018, but since late autumn 2017, we have met project teams that are interested in using the centre. In this work, and in collaboration with my colleague Helena Ströberg, I have been in touch with teams from all over the country, helping them with their application process and the packaging of their project proposals. This coaching work has been incredibly fun and educational. It also shows the breadth of projects attracted to Testa Center: both mammalian and bacterial expression systems, the production of biopharmaceuticals and other biological products, as well as more technically-oriented projects that have the potential to streamline bioproduction in general.

Verification funding from Swelife a valuable incentive

Accepted projects have come from small start-ups and academic groups, but large companies are also represented. Many are linked to one of Sweden’s business incubators or innovation offices, and we therefore try to involve their regional coaches in the work as much as possible. The verification funding from Swelife has proven to be a very valuable tool in this work. We feel that it lowers the threshold and risk for projects in taking the important step of developing their production processes.
 
We will continue to be active throughout the country in order to spread the word about the opportunities that Testa Center offers, and to come into contact with projects that could benefit from the facility. In August / September, we will be putting in appearances in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen, for example. 
 
Finally, we welcome all upcoming project teams to Uppsala. Together with the Testa Center staff, we look forward to meeting you all and supporting your exciting projects in their expansion phase!
 
 
Do you want ongoing information and updates about Testa Center activities? Simply sign up for our newsletter at testacenter.com
 
 

Testa Center in brief: 

  • Access to a unique equipment park – four parallel industrial production labs (non-GMP) up to pilot scale based on single-use technology
  • Access to bioprocessing expertise – dedicated GE staff available for advanced support if desired
  • Cost-effective – develop, test, verify and set production parameters before investing in own equipment or outsourcing production to another party
  • Full control over your IP and your data – GE makes no claims to rights
  • Facility for advanced courses / training in the production of biological products – open to all Swedish universities
  • Authentic test environment for new process and digitization technologies
  • Part of the Swedish innovation support system – simple access to commercialisation support

Kristin Hellman
M.Sc., Business Development
Uppsala BIO

 

Kristin Hellman. M.Sc., Business Development. “I focus on facilitating interaction between large companies and small start-ups and academic projects in order to accelerate the development of promising new products and technologies.”

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