New biomanufacturing training facility opens in Montreal

By Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences   

News adMare Academy biomanufacturing BioTalent Canada Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences CASTL Moderna National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training NIBRT Pierre Fitzgibbon

The new facility responds to the demand for highly skilled personnel in Quebec’s growing biomanufacturing sector

Photo left to right: Stefan Raos (Moderna), Youssef Bennani (adMare), Penny Walsh-McGuire (CASTL), Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon (Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy), Peter Connolly (NIBRT), Roger Ngassam (Moderna), and Sven Ansorge (CASTL). Photo: CASTL.

The Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) recently unveiled its new biomanufacturing training facility in Montreal. Located at the Angus Technopole in east Montreal, the new facility responds to the demand for highly skilled personnel in Quebec’s growing biomanufacturing sector by offering a wide range of technical bioprocessing training.

CASTL is a national skills and training organization formed to address the talent needs of the Canadian life sciences sector. Specializing in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, CASTL delivers on the economic and sectoral demand for individuals who have the technical skills to enter, thrive and meet the needs of the fast-growing Canadian biomanufacturing industry.

“This is a major milestone in CASTL’s mission to enable the growth of the biomanufacturing and life sciences sector,” stated CASTL executive director Penny Walsh-McGuire. “Thanks to the incredible support of the Quebec Government, our national lead partners adMare BioInnovations, and various other partners, CASTL will deliver industry-informed technical training, preparing the current and future workforce for the growth and innovation of Quebec’s fast-growing biomanufacturing sector.”

The new CASTL biomanufacturing training facility contains state-of-the-art pilot-scale bioprocessing equipment that will allow employees to gain practical skills that are immediately transferable to the operations and workflows used in biomanufacturing. The facility is equipped with laboratories and classroom spaces built to deliver biomanufacturing training at the highest level of quality. The facility mimics biologics production processes such as those used to manufacture monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, viral vectors and other biopharmaceutical products of cGMPs. This includes upstream, downstream and supporting equipment, including a solution and preparation area, a cell culture laboratory, bench-top and pilot-scale single-use bioreactors, chromatography and filtration systems and other equipment.

The establishment of this training facility was made possible through an investment of $2.5 million dollars from the Quebec government.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Metropolis and the Montreal Region, stated that the investment will help ensure Quebec’s growth and autonomy in drug manufacturing.

“The creation of the CASTL biomanufacturing training centre in Montreal consolidates Quebec’s position as a leader in the strategic biomanufacturing sector,” stated Fitzgibbon.

According to BioTalent Canada’s 2021 labour market research, Quebec’s bioeconomy will require more than 15,500 additional employees by 2029, with some of the highest demand being in biomanufacturing. CASTL will help fill the demand for skilled individuals.

“As CASTL’s national lead partner, adMare is delighted to welcome CASTL to the Quebec life sciences ecosystem,” stated Kristy Lonergan, senior director of the adMare Academy. “CASTL’s new biomanufacturing training facility is a critical step forward in growing the sector by addressing the talent gap through providing Canadian life sciences talent with the skills needed to develop their careers and simultaneously attracting new talent to Quebec.”

With this new facility, CASTL will deliver on-site customized hands-on and theoretical training for entry-level employees through to senior management and post-secondary students. Courses are set to start in January 2024.

“CASTL’s training facility is a critical asset, nurturing skills for the dynamic biomanufacturing sector and fueling innovation. Cutting-edge science requires cutting-edge talent. We at Moderna recognize the value of this initiative, which promises to foster a robust talent pool, ready to contribute not only to our advanced mRNA manufacturing facility, but also to the broader biotechnology industry,” stated Roger Ngassam, Moderna’s manufacturing site head for Canada.

CASTL is the exclusive provider of the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) licensed training programs in Canada. Based in Ireland, NIBRT develops and delivers state-of-the-art training and education programs for the world’s leading biopharmaceutical manufacturing companies.

“NIBRT is proud to partner with CASTL in its mission to advance biomanufacturing training in Canada. The unveiling of CASTL’s new biomanufacturing training facility in Montreal marks the next exciting step in this journey,” stated Darrin Morrissey, NIBRT’s CEO. “NIBRT’s collaboration with CASTL is a testament to our shared dedication to equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the field of biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The provision of biopharma workforce skills remains a huge global challenge, and we at NIBRT are delighted to share our world-leading training capability to the support the development of the Canadian life sciences sector through this cutting-edge facility, which will play a pivotal role in shaping a highly skilled workforce for the future.”

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