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New R&D hub aims for digitally-integrated manufacturing processes

Manufacturing News

A new Australian Research Council (ARC) Hub to help forge an internationally competitive Australian biopharmaceutical sector using digitisation and artificial intelligence (AI) in pharmaceutical manufacturing has been launched at the University of Melbourne.

ARC Acting CEO Dr Richard Johnson inaugrated the ARC Digital Bioprocess Development Hub – a five-year, $18 million research programme, which has received $5 million in ARC funding, to advance scientific knowledge and allow an interdisciplinary team of engineers, scientists and computing specialists to develop new capabilities.

These will include digitally-integrated, advanced and innovative manufacturing processes that capture and use big data and provide a platform for industry adoption.

Dr Johnson said: “Johnson said: “The Hub marks an important step for the biopharmaceutical industry in Australia.

“It will identify opportunities for digital innovation across biopharma, in manufacturing and emerging biotech companies for new data-driven insights, products and services, with enormous potential for Australian companies and our highly skilled biotech workforce.

“This will improve Australia’s technical leadership and international visibility in a strategically important area of future growth, and build new, national research and innovation capacity that will continue to attract industry investment and provide a sustained, long-term, transformational benefit to the biopharma sector.”

Australia’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry supplies a rapidly growing domestic and international market for pharmaceuticals and vaccines, and its 2022 sector valuation of $12 billion is expected to grow.

The Hub involves collaboration between the University of Melbourne, University of Technology Sydney, RMIT University, global biotechnology company CSL, Cytiva and Patheon Biologics Australia, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

It will also engage with Yokogawa Insilico Biotechnology, Mass Dynamics and Sartorius Stedim Australia, as well as international universities, including The University of Nottingham, Utrecht University and the University of Tartu (Estonia).

University of Melbourne Professor Sally Gras (pictured) of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) will lead the Hub as its Director.

Professor Gras said the Hub’s programme would address key bioprocessing research challenges and develop new process and digital models that can predict and optimise manufacturing processes.

Professor Gras said: “The ARC Digital Bioprocess Development Hub will help position Australia’s biopharma manufacturing sector to benefit from Industry 4.0, which integrates new technologies including AI and machine learning to production processes to allow for better decision making in real-time.

“The Hub will provide the critical mass of researchers and expertise needed to address key biopharma research challenges and an outreach programme that will help achieve rapid translation and up-take of new digital and process technologies, improving access to new therapies and treatments.”

Picture: Professor Sally Gras will lead the new ARC Digital Bioprocess Development Hub

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