The consortium bringing together the BioWin competitiveness cluster, the Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technologies (CETIC) and the regional federation of the chemical and life sciences sector, essenscia wallonie, has received the go-ahead from the Agence du Numérique to launch the BioMan project as part of the “Industry of the Future” program, with the aim of supporting Walloon biomanufacturing companies in their digital transformation.
The BioWin – CETIC – essenscia wallonie consortium announces the launch of BioMan, a new project dedicated to the digitalization of bioprocesses. This project, built on an initiative of the BioWin cluster which will also pilot the program, is supported by the Digital Agency (Agence Du Numérique) via the regional program “Industry of the Future” for the improvement of the competitiveness of manufacturing companies through the use of advanced digital technologies.
The biopharmaceutical industry is the main driver of economic growth, accounting for 34% of Wallonia’s total exports. The Region has leveraged its historical know-how in the classical pharmaceutical sector and high-potential university research programs to become a recognized player in the research and development of innovative biotherapies and one of the European leaders in biomanufacturing.
These biotherapeutic approaches need new production methods (biomanufacturing) that are more complex and costly than the traditional pharmaceutical approaches to “small molecules”, based on chemical synthesis. Biomanufacturing concerns cell therapy and tissue engineering products, recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies, DNA/RNA nucleic acids, viral vectors (gene therapy and vaccine agents), exosomes, bacteriophages, etc.
In order to maintain and strengthen its place in a highly competitive international market, the Walloon biomanufacturing sector must imperatively integrate innovative solutions (virtual reality, augmented reality, predictive maintenance, etc.) into its production methods.
A unique initiative to support SMEs and large groups in the digitalization of biomanufacturing
With a budget of 140,000 euros, the BioMan project aims to promote the intensification and implementation of digitalization within companies involved in biomanufacturing. The BioWin – CETIC – essenscia wallonie consortium aims to consolidate the support approaches already offered by the three organizations by bringing together the specific skills and expertise of each within a single initiative.
The project, which will last two years, will be carried out in several phases :
- Digital awareness of companies active in biomanufacturing
- The realization of a digital maturity diagnosis for the companies expressing their interest
- Assistance in the development of roadmaps for concrete digitalization projects with help in identifying financial tools to make these projects a reality
- Collecting data on the future needs in technical skills of companies active in biomanufacturing
“For several years, the BioWin cluster has identified the evolution of biomanufacturing as a major challenge for the growth and competitiveness of the ecosystem. Digitalization is an essential innovation angle if Wallonia wants to consolidate its place among the European leaders in biomanufacturing. We are proud to be associated with CETIC and essenscia wallonie for this strategic support project”, says Sylvie Ponchaut, BioWin’s Managing Director.
“One of our missions, within the framework of BioMan, is to mobilize biopharma companies and support them in a practical way if they take the decision to launch, even on a small scale at the beginning, in an essential step of digitalization of their bioprocesses”, adds Paul Vanabelle, Expert Research Engineer of CETIC.
“Progressively, Walloon biopharmaceutical companies are confronted with the challenges and opportunities of the development of these digital technologies, and this within the framework of the industrialization and production of innovative therapies,” says Marc Tilmant, Energy, Climate and Digital Transformation Advisor at essenscia wallonie.
The BioMan project is part of the S3 regional innovation policy, which includes in particular the strategic innovation areas to support “innovation for enhanced health” as well as “innovations for agile and safe design and production methods”, as well as the Wallonia recovery plan, whose axis 3 consists of intensifying the digitalization of companies.
“By participating in this “Industry of the Future” project, we aspire to continue and especially strengthen the awareness-raising mechanism for biomanufacturing issues initiated several years ago within BioWin,” concludes Thierry Ferain, Director of Innovation and Growth at BioWin and coordinator of the BioMan project. “We are already in contact with several Walloon companies interested in starting the first stage of digital diagnosis of their company carried out by CETIC.”
More information on the « Industry of the Future » programme