A ground-breaking Ebbw Vale company has launched its prototype Inkjet Bioprinter, and reaction from the biotech sector is overwhelmingly positive.
Copner Biotech, based at UKSE’s Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre, aims to push the boundaries of biomedical research and engineering with its new, patented 3D printer and other innovations. They believe their innovations represent a potential step-change in biomedicine, and that a global market beckons for their products.
The printer, the firm says, revolutionises the production of the scaffolds used for growing cell cultures for research.
“Our printer takes a new approach to this important area, offering more accuracy and realism in mimicking the structures of living tissue,” said Chief Technical Officer Alan Copner.
The printer is now being tested in laboratories and universities around the UK, and trials are also underway in China and the US.
“Feedback so far has been very positive and we are looking forward to ramping up production, and taking on a technician and engineer in the near future. We believe the potential is huge and may change the face of biomedicine,” he added.
UKSE’s Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre was chosen as the research and development facility for the exciting young company which is thriving within the centre, taking more space as it develops. Alan Copner foresees the company employing 10 staff in three years, and growing into larger accommodation at EVIC.
CEO Jordan Copner explained that growing cells on a three-dimensional structure, rather than in the traditional way on a flat petri dish, yields a range of benefits.
“Growing in a petri dish is not without its setbacks, and those grown in 3D exhibit more physiologically relevant characteristics,” he said.
Alan devised the innovative software algorithms for 3D bioprinting the structures. These algorithms claim to have major benefits in terms of efficiency and accuracy of results and reduces the need for testing of new drugs and treatments on animals.
The firm has formed partnerships with Swansea University and also with leading Welsh biotech company Jellagen, who have pioneered the use of jellyfish collagen as the raw material for culture scaffolds.
Copner Biotech was delighted to win the GHP International Life Sciences Award for 3D Cell Culture Technology in 2021. They were also winners of the prestigious MediWales Start-up of the year 2022 as sponsored by Cytiva.
Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Copner is excited to disclose the company is rapidly growing and looking to employ technicians to further support bio printing and cell culture scaffold activities. She explained that the company has received grant funding from Smart Cymru and Innovate UK which has helped to springboard Research and Development programs.
Howard Thompson Investment Executive for Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE, which owns and runs Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre, said he was delighted to see the firm flourishing and growing.
“We are pleased to see a dynamic and innovative firm making its home at EVIC, and adding to the growing reputation the area enjoys for cutting edge technical and scientific initiatives.
“We have many such firms in the Innovation Centre, and nearby is NDEC, the National Digital Exploitation Centre for cyber security research and training, and this is most encouraging for the future,” he said.