May 8, 2024

BioHubNet Receives $19 Million in Federal Funding to Address HQP Shortage in Biomanufacturing

Faculty, Research Funding, Trainees
Composite of headshots of Gilbert Walker, Molly Shoichet and Darius Rackus
Gilbert Walker, Molly Shoichet and Darius Rackus
By Luella Chow

Edited and reposted from PRIME Next-Generation Precision Medicine.

Biomanufacturing Hub Network (BioHubNet), an immersive talent development program led by Molly Shoichet, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and Scientific Director of PRiME Next-Generation Precision Medicine, along with co-leads Gilbert Walker, Professor of Chemistry at U of T, and Darius Rackus, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biology at Toronto Metropolitan University, has been awarded $18.9 million in federal funding from the Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and Biomedical Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF). This significant investment aims to address the severe shortage of industry-ready highly qualified personnel (HQP) in the biomanufacturing sector over the next four years.

BioHubNet is one of the four research programs in the Canadian Hub for Health Intelligence and Innovation in Infectious Diseases (HI3) that has received $72 million in federal funding from the Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and Biomedical Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF). This infusion of capital not only bolsters the nation’s biomanufacturing capacity but also reinforces its resilience against emerging health threats.

Molly Shoichet underscores the urgency of expanding Canada's pipeline of skilled research talent, stating, “Canada’s future as a leader in bio-innovation depends on having highly qualified workers, yet the sector is predicted to face severe workforce shortages in the coming years. By expanding the pipeline of skilled research talent in Canada, BioHubNet will accelerate the translation of promising discoveries from bench to market and ensure that this country’s biomanufacturing sector continues to grow and attract further international investment.”

To tackle this pressing shortage of industry-ready talent head-on, BioHubNet will leverage its 26 industry and training partners, spanning multinational corporations and local biotech firms alongside five Ontario colleges. Together, they will spearhead the development of comprehensive training programs and curricula, providing hands-on learning experiences to HQP, such as graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and others, preparing them for seamless integration into industrial roles.

The timing of this funding couldn’t be more critical. With projections indicating a staggering shortfall of skilled workers in the biomanufacturing sector, with only a quarter of the required positions anticipated to be filled by 2029, BioHubNet aims to bridge this gap by nurturing nearly 1,000 highly skilled workers through micro-credential courses, industry internships, academic exchange placements, and entrepreneurial training.

Embedded within BioHubNet’s mission is a steadfast commitment to create more equitable and inclusive participation in the biomanufacturing sector. Through intentional recruitment and active support for underrepresented groups, BioHubNet aims to cultivate a diverse talent pool that reflects the rich tapestry of the Canadian life science ecosystem.