The Swedish Government and GE Healthcare are opening Testa Center, an innovation centre in Uppsala, Sweden, to boost the commercialisation of new technologies and support manufacturing capabilities in the life sciences sector.

The 2500m2 (27,000 ft2) Testa Center houses four bioprocessing laboratories with GE Healthcare technologies for testing new discoveries for the production of biopharmaceuticals, one of the world’s fastest-growing classes of medicines.

The Swedish Government has invested around €10m (SEK100m) in Testa Center and has identified life sciences as one of its top five partnership programmes. It is striving to increase collaboration between the public sector, business and academia to strengthen the country’s competitiveness and innovation capability. Earlier this year, the government opened an office that is fully dedicated to life sciences.

Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg says: “This impressive test bed, Testa Center, which GE Healthcare chose to develop in partnership with the government promotes innovation, strengthens competitiveness and will help us provide more efficient care in the future. This is important for Sweden and our life sciences strategy, as we are facing tough health challenges globally. People grow older and chronic and lifestyle-related diseases are increasing. Life sciences is a knowledge-intensive sector with a high growth potential.”

Swedish biotechnology company BioLamina is the first company to run a project at Testa Center. Biolamina develops and manufactures protein-based reagents, Biolaminins used to create reliable and robust processes to develop therapeutic cells from stem cells. The company recently entered into a collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to support the development of new cell therapies targeting Parkinson’s disease, heart failure and loss of vision. BioLamina will use Testa Center to scale-up its production capacity, helping it deliver more reagents to its global customer base.

CEO of BioLamina Kristian Tryggvason said: “With the increasing demand for our high-quality laminins within the cell therapy industry, we need to scale-up our production capacity.

“Testa Center gives us a unique possibility to do this internally instead of relying on large global contract manufacturers.”

CEO of GE in the Nordics and CEO of Testa Center says Lotta Ljungqvist said: “Testa Center was created to advance innovation, but it also strengthens the life sciences talent pool in Sweden. We can learn from smaller companies with fast and flexible ways of working. Testa Center is a real-life example of a successful public-private partnership that has brought together many key players in Sweden. The engagement and buzz around the centre have been astounding, and I believe that many discoveries will be taken to the real world with the help of Testa Center”.

In addition to the investment coming from the Swedish Government through its innovation agency, Vinnova, GE Healthcare has invested around €4.5m (SEK45m) in the centre. The other sponsors are the national life sciences facilitator SWElife, Region Uppsala, the industry organisation Uppsala BIO, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth and the Foundation for Collaboration between the Universities in Uppsala, Business, and the Public Sector (STUNS).

Testa Center is a national and international testbed open to academia, start-ups and industry. It is purpose-built for verifying digital, technical and biological innovations in an authentic production setting. This helps organisations achieve a more time and cost-effective way to reduce the risks of securing industrial proof-of-concept, which is vital for later market introduction and sales.

The industrial-standard bioprocessing laboratories up to pilot-scale (non-GMP) are mainly based on single-use technologies from GE Healthcare Life Sciences. The centre is owned and operated as a non-profit company by GE Healthcare in Uppsala that also provides operational support and expertise for project owners. The project owners retain full control of their intellectual property and data.