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New Member Spotlight: University of New Hampshire

ARMI | BioFabUSA has partnered with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) as the catalyst for a nationwide Education Workforce Development (EWD) plan which will open up careers and train a workforce to meet the needs of a new industry called biofabrication.

“There is so much work to be done at the intersection of engineering and medicine to create a whole new industry, and we are going to transform advanced manufacturing education along the way,” said Mike Decelle, Dean of UNH’s Manchester Campus and Chief Workforce Officer at ARMI.

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The emerging field of biofabrication combines the disciplines of biology-related research, computer science, materials science and engineering to create an industry for engineered tissue manufacturing, which will restore form, function and appearance to patients and reduce the waiting time for organ transplant patients.

“Solving the challenges of industrializing tissue engineering will take a diversity of thought from across many disciplines of science and technology. We need to bring all those skills together, and then develop them in the next generation of knowledge workers.”

“The academic and commercial communities are doing a tremendous job driving breakthroughs in regenerative medicine,” Decelle noted. “Now it is time to ensure that a workforce, with the skills which will be in high demand, will be ready for these new careers. New and different types of talent will be needed for this industry to succeed.”

The University of New Hampshire is the state’s public research university, providing comprehensive, high-quality undergraduate programs and graduate programs. Its primary purpose is learning: students collaborating with faculty in teaching, research, creative expression, and service. At the UNH Manchester campus, the mission is to provide a world-class UNH education and students by bringing together career-driven programs, faculty talent and a focus on experiential learning, and connect them to the wealth of opportunities in the region.

“The UNH partnership with ARMI is an opportunity catalyst to support the university system’ priority to increase program capacity in biosciences and to position UNH as a leader in the emerging biosciences manufacturing sector,” read the October 2017 minutes of the USNH Board meeting.

In response to the projected needs of the biomanufacturing sector, UNH Manchester has developed an Introduction to Biotech Manufacturing course that explores the terminology and practices of the industry while emphasizing the business, regulatory, legal and scientific foundations in today’s commercial and government sectors. Students now learn about all aspects of these biotech products, from how they are made to how they are regulated, marketed and studied. UNH is planning to adapt the course for other audiences, including high school students and members of industry.

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Decelle said, “We are developing a set of online biotechnology curriculum and bringing additional elements that these curricula typically do not have, like quality systems, regulatory practices, and intellectual property.”

UNH Manchester is currently renovating its sixth-floor space at its Millyard campus with $5 million from the University System of New Hampshire. This new facility will house set of functions that will include an ARMI workforce training center along with a small company incubator that will host young companies in the biotech ecosystem.

While Decelle said it is too soon to know what ARMI-related products will emerge in five to 10 years, he said, “We do know that the biofabrication industry will be in competition for talented workers who otherwise might apply their skills to other industries. It is our job to attract students at an early age for a new industry. We believe that the UNH programs will be a force for net migration into the state, and a place where those students will stay because of the opportunities afforded them.”

As another show of commitment to the new industry, the University of New Hampshire School of Law, in collaboration with industry partners has teamed up with ARMI|BioFabUSA on a new initiative called “BioInnovation Research Collaboration and the Law,” an innovative course highlighting the intersection of health, intellectual property and business law as the beginning of a curriculum that addresses legal and regulatory issues in a rapidly-growing field.

“Employers want to have experienced people right out of the gate, employees who can hit the ground running and understand the new technologies, what it is like to work in a regulated environment and UNH is ready to provide those professionals,” he concluded.