Global biotechnology pioneer Biogen Idec has signed a collaboration agreement with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to help develop and deliver programs at the university's Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC), at WPI's Gateway Park.
Biogen Idec joins AbbVie (formerly Abbott Laboratories), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Shire Human Genetic Therapies as affiliates of the BETC. Leaders from these companies collaborate with the BETC team to develop customized curricula and programs that support their specific business needs. Along with WPI life sciences faculty members and BETC subject-matter experts, professionals from partner companies will serve as instructors and mentors for students enrolled in non-proprietary programs at the BETC. The first Biogen Idec program, a two-week course for 20 of its employees, began May 20 as the inaugural corporate class run at the BETC.
"We welcome Biogen Idec to the BETC and look forward to a dynamic partnership," said Anthony Mangano, associate dean of corporate and professional education at WPI. "Biogen Idec’s commitment to our center, like that of our other partners, exemplifies the mission of the BETC, which is to deliver customized and relevant programs that help companies achieve their economic objectives and fulfill their commitments to their patients."
Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the oldest independent biotechnology company in the world and develops treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia, and autoimmune disorders. The company is headquartered in Weston, Mass., and operates globally. "We are really looking forward to the positive impact this collaboration will have on our staff," said Ed Goodreau, vice president of manufacturing at Biogen Idec. "Working with an academic institution like WPI greatly expands the tools we have to develop and train our workforce. The modern and relevant facility at WPI gives staff both knowledge and hands-on experience that they can bring back to our site for immediate impact."
The BETC is located in the newest building at WPI's Gateway Park. With large- and small-scale bioprocessing areas, support labs, and classrooms, the center has industry-standard process areas for equipment preparation, buffer and media preparation, fermentation and cell culture, product capture, purification, and analytics.
"Collaborating with industry to advance technologies and economic opportunities has been the hallmark of WPI since its founding," said Stephen Flavin, WPI's vice president for academic and corporate development. "The blending of academic and industrial expertise that we are creating at the BETC will help serve students and biotechnology companies throughout the region."
Funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the BETC is dedicated to developing the workforce needed to support biotechnology companies as they grow and bring new medicines to the clinic to help people.
"One of the goals of our capital program is to establish unique resources that will be available to industry across the state," said Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. "Our investment in a first-in-the-region center for biomanufacturing training and education at WPI will meet the workforce needs of industry, provide for a more inclusive workforce, and enhance Massachusetts' strengths as a leader in biomanufacturing. So it is very gratifying for us to see Biogen Idec, one of our leading and fast-growing biotechnology companies, taking advantage of this exciting new facility at WPI. We love to see the state's investments at work!"
The creation of the BETC enhances WPI's already significant presence in the life sciences; over the past eight years, the university has invested more than $110 million in life sciences education, research, and infrastructure. These investments have come in the form of outstanding new faculty, the most up-to-date technology, lab space, and supporting facilities.
About Biogen Idec
Through cutting-edge science and medicine, Biogen Idec discovers, develops, and delivers to patients worldwide innovative therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia, and autoimmune disorders. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company. Patients worldwide benefit from its leading multiple sclerosis therapies, and the company generates more than $5 billion in annual revenues.