A New Chapter for UPM Biomedicals: Unveiling the new Basel Site for our Life Science customers
On October 4th, 2023, UPM Biomedicals hosted its first event in our new premises in the Switzerland Innovation Park, Basel. The opening event marks a significant stride for UPM. In spring, we received the keys to the facility and hired first workers in Switzerland, during summer we have been procuring office and laboratory equipment and now it was finally time to open the doors to our customers and stakeholders.
The event gathered an impressive turnout. With nearly 80 attendees and industrial partners who were ready to learn more about UPM Biomedicals and explore the future of automated workflows for 3D cell culture. 3D cell culture is used in screening of new pharmaceutical compounds and helps to predict the treatment outcome in human. Besides pharmaceutic compounds, same technology can be also used for toxicity screening of new chemical, food, environmental, cosmetic compounds.
The event not only unveiled our facility inside the modern Switzerland Innovation Park, Basel Main Campus but also brought together industry leaders, collaboration partners, as well as other UPM businesses.
The event was opened by Valtteri Hirvonen, the Ambassador of Finland in Switzerland, who introduced the key trades of Finnish people – modest, honest, hard-working, but innovative.
Heikki Ilvespää, Vice President R&D of UPM-Kymmene Corporation, talked about UPM’s transformative journey from a forestry company into a leader providing bio-based materials for a variety of industries. Innovation is at the heart of our success and UPM is looking forward to new collaborations to be had in Switzerland.
Dr. Johana Kuncova-Kallio, Director of UPM Biomedicals, presented the UPM Biomedicals wood nanocellulose based products for screening, GrowDex® for 3D cell culture, GrowInk™ for bioprinting, FibDex® for advanced wound care and FibGel™ for injectable implants. After introducing our vision for nanocellulose use in different phases of pharmaceutical developmental process, Johana focused on the preclinical phase and especially on how GrowDex enables automation of organoid culture and reduces the use of animal-derived matrices.
Finally, Dr. Tijmen Booij, Team Lead from NEXUS, ETH Zürich, presented their fully automated screening facility, discussed the benefits of automation and showcased them with GrowDex hydrogel and HCC organoids in 1536-well plate format. The liver cancer organoids were screened with an FDA approved collection of drugs and the results were compared with animal-derived matrix. The repeatability was proven by running the same assay one year later showing good correlation of results. NEXUS was able to also quantify the cost per organoid test, which reduces from 0.7 USD to 0.05 USD per sample by avoiding the use of pipette tips, replacing animal-derived matrix with GrowDex and increasing the array to 1536 format.
Following the speeches, our guests were divided into groups to tour the Innovation Park, enjoy some coffee with pastries and to visit the exhibition at UPM Biomedicals’ laboratory. There, attendees explored the instruments enabling automation of organoid workflows. This sparked many of insightful dialogues. 10 partners exhibited their solutions for the 3D cell culture workflows with GrowDex.
To conclude the day there was unique networking opportunity as the blend of Finnish and Swiss delicacies were served and everyone were able to engage with their peers and the UPM team in a relaxed setting, creating connections that may lead to future collaborations.
This photo editorial captures the essence of innovation and collaboration that resonated through the corridors of the Switzerland Innovation Park, Basel, portraying a promising horizon for UPM Biomedicals and the biomedical sphere at large.