Learning ‘biologistics’

May 28th 2019

Continuing education centre ULB-HeLSci is aware of the logistics challenges that the biotechnology industry must face, and contributes to developing the skills of professionals working in this area.

‘Handling, packaging, storing, and transporting drugs and body material (human or animal) is not something you can do without training’, explains Béatrice Goxe, training engineer at ULB-HeLSci. ‘There are a number of regulations and procedures that must be followed and established.’

Transport challenges
Cell-based products are especially fragile during transport. They must be kept at a stable temperature (often low) throughout the journey. These high-value-added products incur significant transportation, packaging, and insurance costs. They are also classified as biological hazards and, as such, subject to specific regulations. People in charge of logistics must therefore be aware of these considerations, and take them into account when sending and receiving this particular type of material.

Raising awareness among (future) biologisticians

ULB-HeLSci is developing an extensive training catalogue. In order to meet the needs of professionals in the field, the training centre has developed an innovative collaboration with the Hainaut region’s FOREM. ‘We are in charge of the “awareness of cell-based products” section of this biologistics course’, says Béatrice Goxe. ‘Over the course of ten days, we teach participants about the specificities of living material: what a cell is, how it is cultivated, how fragile it is, and how much time and money goes into producing it. Our goal is to give them a better idea of what the biological product they are in charge of actually is.’
This enables participants to learn about the material, procedures, and terminology used in the biotech industry. ‘Terms such as “clean room”, “pipette”, “laminar flow cabinet”, etc. are far from being common knowledge! And yet, anyone who transports this type of material must be familiar with them.’

An industry on the rise

Biologistics meets a growing need across the entire biotech industry, from businesses to hospitals. In 2018, Belgium has exported nearly 43 billion euros worth of (bio)pharmaceutical products. The same year, Brussels Airport recorded a 32% increase in pharmaceutical cargo over 2017. The Charleroi region and the Biopark are no exception: ‘Many of the Biopark’s companies are moving on to clinical trials and increasing their industrial production’, comments Béatrice Goxe. ‘Their transport needs will only grow over the coming years. This is why we also offer businesses and hospitals “personalised” courses and information sessions on specific topics related to biologistics.’