In an effort to bolster the life sciences talent pool and provide Philadelphians with equitable access to meaningful career opportunities, the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) and The Wistar Institute are collaborating once again with support from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (the Chamber) to bring their award-winning expansion of Wistar’s Biomedical Technician Training Program to a new partner, VintaBio, Inc.
The collaborators launched the pilot Biomedical Technician Training Program cohort in the summer of 2022 with Philadelphia Navy Yard-based company Iovance Biotherapeutics. The highly successful and award-winning program resulted in more than 400 applicants and 13 program graduates, ten of whom were offered full-time company employment starting at $25/hr.
The program also led to a 2022 BioBuzz Workforce Champion Award and the creation of a second cohort with Iovance.
The third cohort with VintaBio, Biomedical Technician Training Program: Lab Technician, will aim to meet the talent needs of the rapidly growing cell and gene therapy manufacturing industry.
In the spring of 2023, VintaBio emerged from stealth with a newly appointed CEO, David Radspinner, $64 million in funding, and a purpose-built gene therapy manufacturing facility in The Navy Yard in Philadelphia.
Recruitment for Biomedical Technician Training Program: Lab Technician will be open to Philadelphia residents ages 18 and older with a high school degree or equivalency January 18-30, 2024.
Cohort participants will then begin 22 weeks of paid training on February 13. The training will include classroom- and lab-based training provided by Wistar, as well as professional development from WPSI and an externship with VintaBio.
WPSI Executive Director Cait Garozzo said the partnership with VintaBio marks a very exciting era of Life Science development in Philadelphia.
“We have proven that this cohort-based training model works for larger scale companies and institutions, and we are excited to show its efficacy for growing companies like VintaBio,” Garozzo said. “Where other companies at a similar stage may focus on degreed talent, VintaBio is widening its talent pool to include candidates who complete our training program. Hiring local talent is advantageous at every stage of a company life cycle, and we applaud VintaBio for recognizing this and taking action.”
VintaBio’s Radspinnner added that VintaBio is proud to share the responsibility of building a pipeline of talent locally as the need for skills across the life sciences sector rises.
“VintaBio’s focus is improving access to critical life-saving gene therapies through simplification and cost reduction of gene therapy manufacturing while greatly improving the reliability of these processes,” he said.” I’m excited to join forces with West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, PIDC, and Wistar to develop and hire top talent for our fast-growing team and generate rewarding career opportunities for our community. “
Dr. Kristy Shuda McGuire, Wistar Institute’s Dean of Biomedical Studies in the Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Education and Training Center, said this third workforce development cohort will expand Wistar’s Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) pre-apprenticeship program further than ever by continuing to train Philadelphians for the specialized workforce the sector needs and by connecting graduates to opportunities for career advancement.
“Wistar – together with West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, the Chamber of Commerce, the Navy Yard (PIDC), and VintaBio – believe in the strength of our life sciences ecosystem. To further grow our regional workforce, we are committed to connecting individuals to careers in Greater Philadelphia to support innovation and success in the life sciences, from biomedical research to biotechnology and cell and gene therapies,” McGuire said.
Kate McNamara, PIDC’s Senior Vice President at the Navy Yard, said the program’s previous partnerships with Iovance Biotherapeutics were a huge success, “resulting in more than 100 Philadelphians being placed in full-time, competitive pay positions with great Navy Yard companies.”
“From the successful launch of the pilot Biomedical Training Program cohort with Iovance in summer 2022 to a follow-up second cohort with Iovance announced in 2023, and now this third cohort with VintaBio as an employer partner, this program is meeting so many of the Chamber’s workforce development goals,” said Claire Greenwood, Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Economic Competitiveness at the Chamber. “The Chamber is grateful to Wistar, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, PIDC, the program’s funders, and employer partners for their commitment to collaborating to grow our region’s cell and gene therapy talent pool.”
Please join the Chamber and our partners in amplifying news of the Biomedical Technician Training Program: Lab Technician, open to Philadelphia residents 18 years of age or older with a high school diploma or GED. You can do so by sharing this article with your networks.
View the joint press release here.