Province and PacifiCan creating new B.C. National Biomanufacturing Training Centre

THE Government of B.C. and PacifiCan are making a combined investment of $7.2 million to create a new B.C. National Biomanufacturing Training Centre (NBTC) at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), which will support companies addressing some of the world’s most pressing health-care challenges.

“B.C. is home to Canada’s fastest-growing life-sciences sector, which will need hundreds and eventually thousands of new, highly skilled employees to continue expanding,” said Brenda Bailey, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, on Tuesday. “Establishing the training centre here in B.C. is part of our StrongerBC Future Ready commitment. It will help us address the current skills shortage, purposefully prepare for the future and boost B.C.’s businesses and competitiveness.”

The new NBTC will be the first of its kind in B.C. and will help build a local talent pool to meet the needs of growing life sciences and biomanufacturing businesses. By 2026, the NBTC is expected to provide training for more than 700 people annually, further positioning the province as a world leader in life sciences with highly skilled workers.

The Province is investing $2 million for the NBTC, while the Government of Canada, through PacifiCan, is providing $5.2 million. BCIT will partner with the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL) to deliver industry-informed biopharmaceutical manufacturing training at the NBTC.

“British Columbia is globally renowned as a leader in several life-science fields, including antibodies and vaccine research and development,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan). “Today’s funding will help train the next generation of skilled workers to meet the growing need for talent and further strengthen our economy.”

The new NBTC will bring together academia, government and industry partners (known as the triple-helix model) to offer professional, hands-on biomanufacturing training that is aligned with industry needs. It will be part of a national network of training facilities and will operate at BCIT in partnership with CASTL to deliver hands-on and theoretical training in biopharmaceutical manufacturing from a globally recognized curriculum.

NBTC will help those companies that are already on a path to opening thousands of good-paying jobs in British Columbia. The training centre is expected to be open in spring 2024. The first program will be delivered later that summer.

“We are pleased to see this investment by the governments of Canada and British Columbia to establish the National Biomanufacturing Training Centre at BCIT,” said Murray McCutcheon, senior vice-president of partnering, AbCellera. “We believe initiatives like the NBTC will be an integral part of building the highly skilled workforce needed to fill future jobs in biomanufacturing and advance Canada’s capabilities to make medicines.”

At the NBTC, students and trainees will receive on-site hands-on and theoretical training in classrooms and mocked-up clean room environments equipped with state-of-the-art pilot-scale bioprocessing equipment. Led by experienced industry trainers, the courses will cover topics from contamination control and quality assurance to upstream and downstream bioprocessing. These will be suitable for operators through to senior management, as well as post-secondary students, who will gain practical skills that can be immediately taken into the workplace.

The NBTC is the first key action in the coming B.C. Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy, which will position B.C. as a global hub for life sciences and biomanufacturing by nurturing new talent, developing new lab space, leveraging the research capacities of B.C.’s post-secondary sector, and supporting employment across the sector.


Quick Facts:

* It is estimated that by 2029 Canada will need more than 16,000 employees in biomanufacturing, including more than 3,400 bio-health workers in Metro Vancouver alone.

* Construction of the NBTC is expected to be completed in December 2023, with delivery of training in 2024.

* Professional, scientific and technical services is the second-largest category of job openings in the 2022 edition of the Labour Market Outlook.

* CASTL is the exclusive Canadian provider of the globally recognized National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training licensed training programs.