North Carolina State University opens biotechnology training and education center


Raleigh, N.C.– Best-in-class commercial-grade technologies and equipment is being used for the first time in a pilot-scale training facility to train students in microbial fermentation and cell structure biotechnologies for the development of protein-based therapeutic drugs and commercial products.

The facility, called the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center, or BTEC, employs ABB’s Industrial IT System 800xA Extended Automation technology, instrumentation, analyzers and variable speed drives to achieve continuous validation and precise, real-time control of the bioreactors for real-time release under strictly maintained and regulated conditions.

BTEC was built at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh, North Carolina to help educate students in manufacturing sciences, industry research, development and current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for one of the fastest growing industries in the 21st century. The 86,000 square foot pilot-scale facility, made possible with a grant of $35 million from the Golden Leaf Foundation, has the capacity to train 2,000 students and incumbent workers each year, including candidates from 44 community college locations within the state.

“As the biotech industry expands, much attention is being given to developing a skilled and experienced workforce in an industry where biomanufacturers are becoming increasingly risk adverse,” said Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, Director of the center. “Any errors in the full-scale process of culturing, isolating and purifying therapeutic proteins and enzymes used in the production of biopharmaceuticals due to inexperience could be very costly. These manufacturers want to hire engineers, scientists and technicians that have hands-on experience in the thoughtful and careful operation of these facilities.” Kilpatrick went on to say the experience at the BTEC facility would provide the student with this crucial incremental value, an invaluable asset in securing employment in this field.

Greg Scheu, Senior Vice President and Regional Division Manager of Automation Products, noted that along with expansion comes competition. “Biomanufacturers will need to focus on process optimization and develop centers of excellence through capacity planning and reducing time to market by shortening cycles – all while reducing the cost of goods. Crucial to this is data management through real-time data retrieval and recording keeping for faster validation of the batches and control of the bioprocesses under strictly maintained and regulated conditions. ABB is pleased that its Industrial IT System 800xA Extended Automation technology was selected as best-in-class to accomplish this for the BTEC facility.”    

Since its introduction in January 2004, more than 3,100 System 800xA solutions have been sold in a wide variety of industries worldwide. System 800xA enables the complete integration of plant automation, front-end stock control, packaging, distribution and data management in real time to enhance operational efficiency by delivering both cost savings and process optimization. The solution also provides the ability to monitor the complete plant floor, product lines and shop floor processes along with all building management functions. This sets the standard for providing Real Time Product Release for life science manufacturers.

ABB is not new to the biotechnology field. In 1985 its MOD 300 control system, serial number 1, was used in the production of the first biotech enzyme. This enzyme causes water to freeze at 35 degrees F. It continues to be used at ski slopes and resorts throughout the country.

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