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The BioPharmaChem Skillnet, in association with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), today (4th March) unveiled a new programme that could revolutionise skills development in the sector.

Embracing virtual reality technology, the programme develops skills on aseptic techniques – which focus on managing sterile environments and minimising contamination – via an Oculus VR headset. Traditionally this training is delivered in the production environment, which can be disruptive as it often requires production line downtime. This programme will enable upskilling outside of the live environment, reducing risk and creating opportunities to manufacture additional batches of product estimated at up to €10 million. Today’s announcement will allow companies to develop these critical skills with significant savings and minimal interruption to their operations.

Available from the end of March 2021, the programme will educate participants in a range of aseptic activities typically performed in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Using cutting-edge virtual reality, participants can ‘perform’ activities in a simulated cleanroom environment including gowning sequencing, handwashing, issue identification, glove inspection and isolator operations. The course will also leverage 3D modelling to demonstrate speed of movement and incorporate feedback for users.

Speaking at today’s launch, Paul Healy, Chief Executive at Skillnet Ireland, said “Bringing together industry and higher education to provide cutting-edge skills and development opportunities for businesses is what we do best – and today’s launch is a compelling example of what is possible. Innovative digital learning models, including virtual reality, offer us so much opportunity to develop best-in-class talent in an accessible and cost-effective way.”

Development of the “Aseptic Techniques for Biomanufacturing in VR” course was led by the BioPharmaChem Skillnet Business Network, which includes leading global and indigenous organisations in the pharmaceutical, biopharma, chemical and medical device sectors. Focused on supporting the growth of these sectors by enhancing skills and development opportunities, this latest offering presents an exciting innovation that could have a wide-reaching application for the sector.

Commenting on the launch, BioPharmaChem Ireland (BPCI) Director Matt Moran said “This fantastic initiative, driven by the Biopharmachem Skillnet, fully supports the BPCI strategy to develop the talent base across the sector. I am particularly excited to see Virtual Reality applied to facilitating training within the industry and look forward to this being expanded in the future.”

The new programme was developed in collaboration with the Virtual Interaction Research Lab (VIRal), a cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality and development environment at TU Dublin.

Speaking at today’s launch, Alex Gibson, Assistant Head of the School of Marketing in TU Dublin, discussed the potential of immersive training. “Covid 19 has imposed budget and safety constraints in terms of training across many sectors including the Bio, Pharma and Chemical sectors. As a consequence, immersive technologies such as AR and VR have seen accelerated adoption. With immersive technologies allowing training to be delivered more effectively, and efficiently, than traditional face-to-face or e-learning platforms I expect to see massive interest in the deployment of these technologies in the coming years.”

The course will be available from the end of March 2021. For more details on BioPharmaChem Skillnet visit

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