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Skills, Talent & Development

Virtual Reality Demonstrated as a Promising Tool for Training the Advanced Therapies Community

Georgi Makin
4 June 2021

A new virtual reality (VR) training opportunity could reportedly reduce the time and costs associated with training new employees in advanced therapies techniques.

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The virtual training modules – developed by Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and FourPlus – have been launched as part of the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community, which aims to create a ‘ready supply’ of skilled and talented members of the advanced therapies community.

Cell and Gene Catapult claim each module presents an innovative way for training staff in a virtual GMP environment, featuring a cleanroom orientation, GMP cleaning, cleanroom gowning, Health and Safety, and GMP auditing.

A recent press release also states that the training offered aligns with the standards of the Manufacturing Technician, Laboratory Technician, Technician Scientist and Modern Apprenticeship programmes.

As CEO of Cell and Gene Catapult, Matthew Durdy, explained:

“VR has obvious cost, efficiency and safety benefits but it is far from simple to deliver. Courses like those created in collaboration with FourPlus, will further increase the supply of qualified and capable people to the cell and gene therapy industry. Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult is now able to offer this solution through the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community apprenticeships programme. We hope that the adoption of VR training will introduce new learners to new environments from any location, reducing the cost and time it takes for new employees to become operational and increasing access to effective training.”

The nature of the new VR training modules means that only a headset is required to participate in the training exercises, thus allowing greater access to training through remote opportunities. The virtual GMP and cleanroom settings have been based on the Cell and Gene Catapult’s own (large-scale) manufacturing facility in Stevenage, adding to the realism of the modules.

“We are delighted to work with Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to create a VR training platform for GMP operator trainees. Currently, GMP training requires significant investment of time, infrastructure and equipment that can lead to production downtime. The FourPlus platform will enable training to first be undertaken in VR before the operator sets foot in a GMP facility, which will accelerate the training cycle, increase competence and confidence of operators, and reduce costs associated with production downtime,” Hayley Mulhall and Ivan Wall, Cofounders of FourPlus added.

The training is set to be delivered by the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community, coordinated by Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and funded by an £1.5m award from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Source: Cell and Gene Catapult press release

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