The graduation ceremony took place on Friday 15 July at 12 noon at the biotech company’s facilities.
The first ten students have completed their studies in the pioneering initiative between the Vice-Ministry of Vocational Training of the Basque Country and Viralgen. All of them have already been hired by the biotech company and have been part of its staff since 18 June.
The graduation ceremony took place last Friday at noon at Viralgen’s new plant in Miramón. The event was presided over by Javier García, CEO of Viralgen, and was attended by Jon Azkuna, Dual Vocational Training Coordinator of the Vice-Ministry of Vocational Training; Jon Labaka, Executive Director of Tknika of the Vice-Ministry of Vocational Training; Iñigo Olaizola, Manager of Fomento San Sebastián; Nora Amorena, President of Ikaslan; and the three executive directors of the participating vocational training centres, Ángel del Río from Easo Politeknikoa, Juan Carlos Lizarbe from Don Bosco and Santiago Rodrigo from Plaiaundi.
Dual Vocational Training is an essential tool to bring young people closer to qualified jobs and to meet the needs of growing companies. Viralgen and the Vice-Ministry of Education of the Basque Government signed an agreement in 2020 and from there began the first class, which graduated on Friday 15 July. This is a three-year training programme. In the first year, students study at their respective schools. Those students interested in joining the programme and who are selected, continue their second year in Dual Training, which means that they study in their training centre and in the company. At Viralgen, they rotate through the various departments where they gain an overview of gene therapy. In the third and final year, the students are assigned to a specific department of the biotech company where they carry out their specialisation.
At the same time, there is already a second graduating class of the “Specialisation programme in industrial manufacturing and quality control of gene therapy drugs”. It is made up of 26 young people who are beginning their final year of specialisation and will last until June 2023. For its part, the third class, with 30 students already selected, will begin the programme next September.
The graduating class is the first in this pioneering modality in the life sciences sector. It also consolidates the success of this collaborative formula that promotes unique educational opportunities for young people from Gipuzkoa and, in turn, represents a source of high quality work for the territory and a benchmark for other educational centres in the country.
Founded in 2017 as a joint venture between AskBio and Columbus Venture Partners (Spanish venture capital group), Viralgen is one of the leading companies in the manufacture of cGMP-quality AAVs. It uses the Pro10™ platform, technology licensed by AskBio, which enables greater scalability, performance and precision of AAV therapies. Based in the Science and Technology Park of Gipuzkoa, Spain, Viralgen is a CDMO (Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization) that produces AAV gene therapy treatments to enable pharmaceutical and biotech companies to accelerate the delivery of new treatments to improve patients’ lives.
A key benefit of our technology is the cGMP production of high-quality rAAVs in large batches through a unique and robust manufacturing platform. Viralgen’s clinical facilities have 4 GMP production rooms that manufacture in 250L and 500L bioreactors. Viralgen expanded its operations in 2020 also within the Science Park with a new plant that will be operational by the end of 2022. This new plant in its first phase will add 3 GMP rooms with production capacity of up to 2000L per room, and will allow production for customers when their products reach the market after passing the regulatory process.
In October 2020 Viralgen was acquired by Bayer and since then continues to operate as an independent production unit. Viralgen employs more than 400 people with high scientific, production and management skills.