Biopharmaceutical Bioprocessing Technology Centre


Industry Collaborators

The aim of the BBTC was to tackle fundamental industrial challenges. This aim could only be reached with strong industry connections. 34 companies collaborated with Newcastle University over the past 10 years. Our students worked embedded in the companies helping to do things better by streamlining processes, developing and implementing new tools and processes, and eventually producing more and better product.

We worked with large pharma companies like GSK, contract manufacturers like Fujifilm Diosynth and exiting new companies like the Newcastle University Spin-Out Demuris or GreenBiologics.

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Learn more about the way we worked with companies:


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the leading global healthcare companies with 18 sites across the UK including its headquarter and four R&D sites. GSK focusses on three business areas: pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare. Especially in the pharma and vaccine area biomolecules and hence bioprocessing are playing a more and more important role for GSK while at the same time advances in chemical engineering gain significance by helping to improve production.

The BBTC had 5 collaborations with GSK. Students were based in their manufacturing sites in Barnard Castle, Ware and Worthing and the R&D facilities in Stevenage:

  • Charlotte Bell focussed on advanced analytical and microbial methods for biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical products and processes
  • Matthew Collison worked on the bioinformatics analyses of the human gut microbiome to better understand its role for human health
  • Chris Davis analysed and improved the filling process of powder inhalers
  • Rory MacDonald optimise the mixing process of GSK’s leading respiratory product
  • Emma Craughan made biosynthetic processes for the production of pharmaceutical compounds cost effective

All projects had an impact on the company by identifying and implementing new production processes or in case of the R&D project by developing a new methodology to read genomic data. 2 students continue working as engineer at GSK in their host departments.


Demuris is a Newcastle University spin-out company with a focus on the discovery of natural products. The starting point for Demuris’ portfolio of new drug development lies in a vast collection of Actinomycete bacteria. These organisms can manipulate the behaviour of surrounding organisms, including bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. Hence they are a source for new antibiotics, antifungal, natural products and enzymes. Identification usually works in 3 steps:

  • Genome sequencing
  • Gene cluster cloning and expression
  • In vivo analoguing

Olga Chrobak, Nicola Taylor and Bernhard Kepplinger worked as EngD students with Demuris on a range of aspects: identifying new natural products from strains existing in the collection, investigating new actinomyces strains and optimising the strain analysis. The students identified several active components with antimicrobial activity that are now in Demuris’ pipeline. Bernhard continues the academic aspect of his work as Research Associate in the team of the Demuris founder at Newcastle University.


Britest is a not-for-profit, membership-based company working with the chemical, pharma and biotech industries. Members work together pre-competitively to share knowledge and risk in defining innovative solutions to process and manufacturing challenges. Britest brings not just companies together but as well as industry and academia.

One of the ways to help their members are the Britest tools. These tools a suite of qualitative instruments and methods, which were designed to highlight the knowledge gaps within chemical and physical processes and to promote innovative process design solutions. The tools can help to identify areas where optimisation may be possible and also increase the understanding of the process as a whole across a range of disciplines. Britest tools have originally been applied to chemical process industry. 2 of our students, Kirsty McLachlan and Wendy Carr, worked with Britest and its member companies.

Kirsty looked at how Britest tools can be used in the bioprocessing industry. She looked at following bioprocessing applications:

  • Monoclonal antibody production
  • Insulin production
  • Waste water treatment
  • Penicillin production

Existing tools were tested for the use in these applications and new tools were developed specifically for bioprocesses. 2 new tools aiding the Quality by Design approach in bioprocessing were added to the Britest’s tool set. Kirsty and her academic supervisor Jarka Glassey were awarded for this accomplishment with the first John Borland Award for Innovation in recognition to their contribution to innovation within the Britest community.

Wendy looked specifically at plant cleaning in the pharmaceutical industry using Principle Component Analysis (PCA). Based on her analysis she developed a new tool to support the design of manufacturing processes taking cleaning into account from early stages of development.

Newcastle University continues collaborating with Britest. Britest for example helped our student brewery, StuBrew, to visualise their brewing process helping new volunteers and project students to understand the processes and underlying science and to easily identify the critical stages of the brewing process.