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BioPharmaChem Skillnet and Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) have launched an exciting new Virtual Reality (VR) programme designed specifically for workplace health and safety training.

The programme is the third such course co-developed by the Skillnet Ireland Business Network and TU Dublin, which harnesses the power of VR and offers an innovative approach to mixed reality training for diverse industries. The VR technology provides a seamless interface with existing simulations in a modular framework to train staff across many sectors in Ireland. It follows on from the success of the previous two VR programmes in ‘Aseptic Techniques for Biomanufacturing,’ and ‘Power Handling’, both of which were nominated for multiple innovation and industry awards.

The new programme was developed in collaboration with Dr Brian Vaughan, Founder and Director of the Virtual Interaction Research Lab (VIRal) at TU Dublin. VIRal is a cutting edge virtual, and augmented, reality research and development environment, in a large, dedicated space.

BioPharmaChem Skillnet provides upskilling to businesses of all sizes in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical device, and chemical supply sectors.

Susan Costello, Network Director, BioPharmaChem Skillnet, said: “As the BioPharmaChem sector continues to embrace immersive technologies, we identified the potential for virtual reality to address some of the known key challenges in health and safety that are high risk and time consuming. VIRal at TU Dublin were able to provide the expertise required to transform the concept of a VR programme into a reality. Dr Brian Vaughan and the team in TU Dublin ensured that the process ran seamlessly and were able to advise, adapt and reinvent when required. The programme would not have been possible without their expertise and the support of Skillnet Ireland, BioPharmaChem Ireland along with the expertise and time that industry members gave to articulate the needs around this training for the sector.”

Dr Sinead KeoghIbec Head of Sectors, said the importance of the BioPharmaChem sector to the Irish economy and its impact on patients globally is “very well accepted”.

“The sector here is the third largest exporter of complex pharmaceutical goods and medicines and the second largest exporter of vaccines in Europe. With €100bn+ in annual exports, 84,000 people directly and indirectly employed and a further 10,000 jobs to be created over the next five years, having the right talent mix as well as innovative approaches to training will be a key differentiator. The use innovative technologies such as VR, increases engagement and knowledge retention while decreasing training time, and engages learners in real-world scenarios that teach important skills and concepts,” Dr Keogh added.

Acknowledging the importance of the ongoing collaboration between the research partners, Dr Paul Maguire, Head of Innovation and Knowledge Transfer, TU Dublin, said: “We are delighted that TU Dublin are continuing our involvement with BioPharmaChem Skillnet, an organisation that is supporting one of the largest and most important sectors in Ireland providing thousands of jobs. This research partnership highlights the world-leading research capabilities of Brian and this team in the VR/AR space and their ability and desire to solve immediate industry challenges. It also spotlights the excellent working relationship that TU Dublin has with BioPharmaChem Skillnet, facilitated by David Gardiner in TU Dublin Innovation via our Open Labs R&D outreach initiative.”

Meanwhile, Dr Brian Vaughn, Founder and Director, VIRal, said: “This is our third time working with BioPharmaChem Skillnet and we have always found them to be an insightful forward-thinking organization pushing the boundaries of training in the industry. It’s always great to work with them to co-create Mixed Reality training applications that incorporate cutting-edge technologies with robust pedagogical principles and methods.”

The new VR Health and Safety programme is now available from BioPharmaChem Skillnet. For more details about the programme and other supports offered by the Skillnet Business Network, please visit

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