Six bioprocessing innovators have successfully completed the inaugural Testa Challenge 2020. Held over an intensive week in the Testa Center located at Cytiva´s Uppsala site, a biomanufacturing scale-up facility, the Testa Challenge aims to allow start-ups, research groups and companies from around the world to run and validate their innovative ideas and products in a real life industrial bioprocess environment. It is funded by STUNS, Region Uppsala and Cytiva.
Uppsala has long been recognised as a world-renowned biomanufacturing hub giving birth to a constant stream of associated companies. To secure future growth and bridge the gap between discovery and industrialisation, the Testa Center was established in 2018 by the Swedish government and Cytiva. Located on Cytiva’s site the 2500 m2 facility has been used by Nordic start-ups. The Testa Challenge aims to broaden the range of applications further across the all aspects of biomanufacturing – from sensors and separation technology to smart automation and AI.
“Bioprocessing companies often choose the established ways-of-working to lower the project risk as much as possible,” says Testa Center Director Jesper Hedberg. “Our mission at the Testa Center is to remove these barriers. We believe Testa Challenge is one way to do it. Inspired by concepts like Open Innovation, Hackathons, Co-working/Co-creation and Investor-pitching, we decided to mimic the innovation process in tech and digital industries and put it into a bioprocess context.”
The actual challenge was for entrants to show how their product or service would improve a real-life start to finish bioprocess run in the Testa facility- producing and purifying a dAb domain antibody fragment. Entrants could concentrate on the whole process or any of the key stages:
- Production of dAb in E.coli in bioreactor.
- Release of dAb to periplasm under heat treatment.
- Clarification and concentration of dAb using cross flow filtration.
- Purification of dAb using affinity chromatography.
“The standard of entrants was incredibly high, not only from the Nordics but also internationally. Eventually we narrowed down to the six finalists – ArgusEye, atSpiro, Freesense, IS-Instruments, Scitara and Unibap, adds Hedberg. “During the Challenge week, we were impressed with all of them – their preparation, application and ingenuity.”
“We are delighted to have taken part in the Testa 2020 Challenge. It offered us a unique opportunity to allow us to evaluate our sensor system in a complete bioprocess, from start to finish, and get valuable data and user-feedback from bioproduction experts. During the week we gained invaluable new knowledge and information that will support and contribute to our future development. We would highly recommend any start-up working in bioprocessing to consider entering next year,” says Erik Martinsson, CEO of ArgusEye
The Testa Center aims to repeat the Challenge in 2021 and hopes to announce a call for entries Spring 2021.