NCBiotech and Partners to Train Military Service Members for Biomanufacturing Jobs

NIIMBLA grant to help train military service members in North Carolina and Texas for biopharmaceutical manufacturing careers has been approved by the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL).

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center and several educational and industry partners requested more than $400,000 for the initiative. It’s one of 14 to be funded this year by NIIMBL as part of its Project Call 3.1 program.

Dubbed Military Service Members in Biopharma Manufacturing (MSMBM), the initiative will provide targeted technical training to complement the leadership and other soft skills learned in the military. It will help prepare a minimum of 50 service members, veterans and military spouses for biopharma manufacturing jobs.

The lead organization for MSMBM is the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station via its National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM). Texas, like North Carolina, has a substantial military presence and will benefit directly from the program.

NCBiotech will lead marketing and outreach and help coordinate the efforts of project participants.

Corporate partners Pfizer and Merck will connect service members to career opportunities in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Both pharmaceutical companies have large manufacturing operations in the Research Triangle area.

Four North Carolina community colleges will develop course materials and provide technical training. They include Central Carolina Community College, Durham Technical Community College, BioNetwork at Wake Technical Community College and Gaston College. NCTM will do the same for Texas participants.

NIIMBL grant partner logos
Military Service Members in Biopharma Manufacturing grant participants

“Military training instills a strong sense of responsibility, professionalism, dedication and the ability to successfully navigate demanding work environments,” said Laura Rowley, Ph.D., director of Life Science Economic Development at NCBiotech. “We want to create a sustainable pathway to connect North Carolina’s growing biopharma manufacturing industry with these skilled professionals. And we want to better enable service members to transition to a rewarding civilian career in a sector they may not have otherwise considered.”

“Military veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses represent a significant an underutilized talent pipeline for the biopharma manufacturing industry,” added Jenny Ligon, NCTM assistant director. “This project aims to elevate their preparedness for careers in biopharma by linking their readily transferable soft skills with targeted training.”

NIIMBL is a public-private partnership funded through a $70 million cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce. It has the support of more than 150 members from industry, academia, and government and is headquartered at the University of Delaware.

The organization’s mission is to speed the pace of biopharmaceutical innovation, develop standards to improve manufacturing know-how, and help build a world-leading biopharmaceutical workforce.

Project Call 3.1 grants cover technology, workforce development and the Global Health Fund, which NIIMBL established with help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support technologies that cut the cost of biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The total value of this year’s awards is approximately $10 million.

Kelvin H Lee, NIIMBL’s director, said the projects will add speed, efficiency and potential savings to an industry that must always be prepared to move quickly. “New manufacturing technologies are crucial to bringing safe, life-saving treatments to patients faster and, now more than ever, the biopharma industry is seeing an increased demand for skilled talent,” he added.

NIIMBL said $63 million has been invested in technology and workforce development projects since the institute was launched in 2017.

This work is performed under financial assistance award 70NANB17H002 from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Bryant Haskins, NCBiotech Writer
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 12:00