GE Healthcare launches Turkey-based R&D lab as economy booms

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

GE Healthcare's Fast Trak Bioprocessing Technology and Training Laboratory in Istanbul. (Image: GE Healthcare)
GE Healthcare's Fast Trak Bioprocessing Technology and Training Laboratory in Istanbul. (Image: GE Healthcare)
As Turkey becomes one of the world’s fastest growing economies, GE Healthcare launches collaborative research scheme to support Turkish biopharmaceutical industry.

GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences business has launched a new research scheme to catalyze Turkish bioprocessing development and manufacturing via its latest Fast Trak Bioprocessing Technology and Training Laboratory in Istanbul.

The new R&D lab is located in GE’s Turkey Innovation Center in TeknoPark, and is equipped with GE’s latest bioprocessing and research technologies, such as the Xcellerex and Wave bioreactors, ÄKTA chromatography systems, Cytell cell imaging systems, and Amersham western blot systems.

These technologies are supported by a team of local GE bioprocessing experts who have already started to provide comprehensive training modules under the standard GE Fast Trak structure​,” Myra Eskes, General Manager, GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences business, Eastern & Africa Growth Markets, told us.

The facility is currently available to any customers accessing GE’s Fast Trak training program; however, with the new research scheme’s launch, universities and research institutions will able to submit project applications to access the facility and its benefits.

(Image: GE Healthcare)

GE Fast Trak training programs consist of standard courses lasting between one and five days, which are held at seven specially equipped training centers globally​,” explained Eskes.

According to Eskes, companies and organizations in the biopharmaceutical sectors in Turkey, the Middle-East, and North Africa are expected to be the facilities main users, although applicants from other nearby regions might also be considered for training at the facility if appropriate.

Why Turkey?

Turkey is one of the world’s fastest growing emerging economies, and has the sixth largest pharmaceutical industry in Europe​,” said Eskes, as to why GE chose the location for the new R&D lab.

It is positioning itself to become a significant player in the global biopharmaceutical market​. The Turkish government has been working closely with the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (AIFD) to accelerate growth in the sector​,” she added.

A recent report​ released by PharmaBoardroom, echoes Eskes comments, explaining that Turkish pharma will continue receiving investment due to internal cooperation and its geography – it is the most politically stable country in the region. Additionally, the according to the report, the state has “realized the importance of the pharma sector​” and is actively promoting new initiatives to support it.

“It’s really quite amazing how much Turkey was able to accomplish between 2003 and 2013 under the Healthcare Transformation Program, led by former Minister of Health Recep Akdag,” ​Alexander Ackerman, Project Director, Focus Reports, told us.

According to Ackerman, despite political challenges, the reforms were successful because “a multitude of governmental bodies worked together towards this common goal.”

“There are many other countries that could benefit from significant healthcare reforms, including both emerging and developed markets, yet needed/beneficial reforms are often considered politically unfeasible or too organizationally complex,” ​he added. “T​urkey’s experience demonstrates that such reforms are possible, and the type of political commitment necessary for such efforts to be successful.”

Looking to the future, the Turkish government’s has set in place Vision 2023 goals, which include a strategy by Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council to support R&D and address skills shortages through a range of grant schemes and industry-academia collaborations.

GE’s research scheme sits within this framework by offering support for academic collaborations through access to its new technology and training facility​,” added Eskes.

At the facility’s inauguration, Professor Hasan Ali Çelik, Deputy Minister of Science, Industry and Technology, explained, “The share of high-tech products in our exports is around 3-4 percent. We should increase this ratio to the level of 15 percent. For this purpose, we should focus on increasing the added value work in the well-established sectors and we need to take serious steps in new-generation sectors​.

According to the PharmaBoardroom report, the future of local producers will be in exports, as well in in specialty products and OTC.

We believe, the products which will be developed in this laboratory will provide significant contribution to Turkey's economy and offer important services to humanity​,” added Çelik

With the facility’s inauguration, GE Healthcare has officially opened calls for upstream and downstream bioprocess projects to be based at Bioprocessing Technology and Training Laboratory.

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