The University of Birmingham is using virtual reality (VR) to improve the delivery of training on bioprocessing and advanced therapies. The Centre for Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Training, one of several National Training Centres designed to upskill the U.K. workforce to meet demand in advanced therapies, is using FourPlus  for the virtual reality component of their courses.

The most recent course, “Introduction to Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products,” included an afternoon of using VR headsets to learn Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for dealing with a spillage in clinic.

According to Ivan Wall, PhD, professor of regenerative medicine at the University of Birmingham and a co-founder FourPlus, “You can’t spill a GMO [genetically-modified organism] on the floor in a clinic, so this is a fun and immersive way to learn the procedure in the event of an accident.”

The introductory course is among six to eight in-person courses for external delegates that have been run by the Centre since it was formally founded around a year ago. The course, which costs £795 + VAT ($955) for each delegate, is aimed at hospital and research pharmacists, as well as research nurses and managers who are looking to administer advanced therapies to patients. The twenty delegates are paid for by the U.K.’s National Health Service.

The Centre has also run three courses for intercalated medics and has started to work with providers of T Levels, with new two-year courses for high school students that include an industry and apprenticeship component.

“We’re really excited to be helping to get the workforce of the future ready,” said Wall. “We’re helping the talent pipeline by helping school leavers and college graduates to learn skills they need to be industry-ready.”

As well as training aimed at boosting the confidence of frontline healthcare workers, Wall also said the Centre offers VR training for bioprocess unit operations. These include a set of modules on setting up single-use plastic tube sets for bioreactors.

“This is really important because training with single-use plastic tubesets produces a lot of plastic waste that has to be incinerated or sent to landfill,” he added. “So, as well as costing several thousand pounds, this has a significant environmental impact.”