Biofabusa 2018 Winter Summit: Accelerating the Commercialization of Engineered Tissues

Jan 12, 2018

BioFab USA held its 2018 Winter Summit on Accelerating the Commercialization of Engineered Tissues in Manchester, NH, from January 4-5. Dean Kamen, Executive Director of ARMI—the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, which is a member-institute of the federal Manufacturing USA program—provided the opening keynote speech, in which he discussed the need for greater collaboration amongst technology sectors to strengthen manufacturing. He later commented on the role of ARMI as convener, not only for these different technologies, but also for industry, academia, and government to come together to address a large-scale technological challenge that holds immense benefits for the U.S. This proved to be a common theme reiterated by many of the presenters at BIOFABUSA. 

ARMI’s collaborative efforts also include to standards development activities. While the FDA is working on standards development and increasing regulatory acceptance, there remains a need for coordinated action and additional standards development between the FDA, industry, and other stakeholders. ARMI is working to ensure all players work together to develop these standards and provide common base-level requirements in the future, avoiding the need for every manufacturer to start at square one when developing their products.

In addition to public-private collaborative efforts, the ARMI Winter Summit focused on the critical need for workforce development paired with increased automation in industry. To tackle the issue of appropriately scaling up, it is imperative to have a workforce that can seamlessly integrate with automation efforts, having each compliment the other. As ARMI is a DOD-led Manufacturing USA institute, there was discussion around filling the workforce gap by giving our veterans an opportunity to gain the hard-skills they need to enter such a field upon leaving military service. Veterans have a swath of soft skills well suited to the manufacturing industry, such as the ability to work in teams, follow instructions, and problem solve. Many universities such as the University of Minnesota and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are also offering programs and courses that prepare students for successful careers in the manufacturing industry.

Despite all of the work still to be done, there have been many advances in engineering, which in turn, have had a positive impact on other industries. In her address on the second day of the event, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reinforced this point, stating that the views and goals of the manufacturing industry encapsulate the “kind of visionary perspective that is going to lead the world…[which is why] it is important to support scientific advancement at all levels.”

Further information about BioFabUSA can be found here: https://www.armiusa.org/about-us