Freedom of innovation: GE opens $17m Swedish biotech testing center

For around $6,600 per week, firms will have access to bioprocessing laboratories and equipment to test their biotech innovations. “The innovative and entrepreneurial environment also provides important input to the GE culture,” says GE Healthcare.

A €10 million ($11.6 million) investment by the Swedish government coupled with €4.5 million from life sciences vendor GE Healthcare has led to the opening of an innovation testing center at the latter’s site in Uppsala, Sweden.

Named the Testa Center, the facility allows access to four bioprocessing laboratories equipped with GE Healthcare technologies to any applicant that wants to test or verify its biotechnical, technical or digital innovation.

“Testa Center is a 2500 m2 upstream / downstream facility, and the technology offering includes four start-to-finish bioprocessing laboratories up to pilot-scale (non-GMP), mainly based on single-use technologies,” Lotta Ljungqvist, CEO of GE in the Nordics and CEO of Testa Center, told BioProcess Insider.

This includes bioreactors with working volumes up to 500 L for mammalian cell cultures and 50 L for bacterial, along with chromatography equipment from lab to pilot-scale.

“The center also houses cell therapy equipment for development purposes,” Ljungqvist continued, adding five dedicated staff members provide hands-on operational support and expertise.

Applicants looking to test their innovations will be reviewed by an independent board. If accepted, its costs around SEK 60,000 ($6,600) per week, though as the center is a non-profit organization this will only be used to cover the running costs.

Swedish biotechnology company BioLamina, a developer and manufacturer of protein-based reagents, is the first company to run a project at Testa Center. The firm, which partnered Novo Nordisk earlier this year, is looking to create reliable and robust processes to develop therapeutic cells from stem cells.

Access to innovation needs

While GE will not get any share of the IP generated by the users – “the actors retain full control of their intellectual property and data,” we were told – the vendor will be privy to information surrounding the needs of new innovations required in the bioprocessing space, as well as having access to new talent.

“The actors using Testa Center have technological innovations that can improve the overall biomanufacturing process efficiency, which benefits our customers, biopharmaceutical companies. We can also learn more together with the actors about the biomanufacturing process and how it can be further improved,” Ljungqvist said. “The innovative and entrepreneurial environment also provides important input to the GE culture.”

“Also, we are expecting to collaborate with academic institutions, which will strengthen the life science talent pool in Sweden. We have large operations in Sweden and we want to hire high-skilled biopharma professionals. Another important aspect is that we can learn from smaller companies that often have fast and flexible ways of working.”

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