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Texas Workforce Commission awards Blinn College, FUJIFILM Diosynth a $289,395 safety and skills training grant

Skills Development Fund grant will provide training for 140 FUJIFILM employees

August 7, 2017

The Texas Workforce Commission has awarded Blinn College and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Texas, LLC a $289,395 grant to provide safety and skills training for FUJIFILM employees.

“Blinn College is proud to continue to partner with the Texas Workforce Commission and local industry leaders such as FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies to provide customized training for the industries that will lead Texas into the future,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, Chancellor of the Blinn College District. “With this training, Blinn and its partners will help to ensure that Bryan/College Station workers remain on the cutting edge of one of the most quickly evolving industries in the State of Texas.”

FUJIFILM partnered with Blinn to assess the needs of its expanding workforce and to customize a highly technical skills training program. FUJIFILM and Blinn collaborated with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) to research FUJIFILM’s needs and to assist in the development of specific courses in the biopharmaceutical industry.

The grant will provide training for 106 new jobs and 34 upgraded positions in business computing; cell culture, bioreactors, and upstream processes; CPR/AED/first aid/blood borne pathogens; HAZWOPER refresher; aseptic/analytical techniques; lockout/tag out; manufacturing safety; Occupational Safety & Health Administration 10-hour general industry certification; powered industrial truck operator; protein chemistry and chromatography; recovery and downstream operations; supervisor/manager skills; and therapeutics manufacturing procedures.

Blinn will contract with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and TEES to provide portions of the specialized training. Blinn and TEEX announced a formal partnership in December to meet Brazos County’s growing demand for workforce training programs, specifically the targeted occupations identified by the Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley Board and as confirmed by each institution’s market research.

“Skills Development Funds deliver solutions that help Texas businesses and their employees thrive in today’s competitive environment by providing training that meets an employer’s specific needs – including customizing the curriculum and providing training around employees’ work schedules,” said Karen Buck, Blinn College Vice Chancellor for Administration & Operations. “This funding allows Blinn to focus on a company’s requirements in real time, with real solutions. Moreover, Skills Development Fund grants are capacity-building mechanisms for community colleges, which allow the institution to respond to the training needs of service area businesses in a timely and efficient manner.”

FUJIFILM has over 25 years of experience in the development and manufacturing of recombinant proteins, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, among other large molecules, viral products and medical countermeasures expressed in a wide array of microbial, mammalian, and host/virus systems. The company offers a comprehensive list of services from cell line development using its proprietary pAVEway™ microbial and Apollo™ cell line systems to process development, analytical development, clinical and FDA-approved commercial manufacturing. FUJIFILM’s mission is to help customers bring their biologic, vaccine candidates and advanced therapies to the clinic and, ultimately, to commercialization.

FUJIFILM acquired Kalon Biotherapeutics LLC in 2014, marking an important new chapter in the emergence of the Texas biosciences industry as a center for world-class development and manufacturing of life-saving biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology while providing FUJIFILM with expanded capacity for its growing vaccine capabilities. FUJIFILM is a key subcontractor to one of the three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures to protect public health in emergencies, including incidents of bioterrorism or an outbreak of pandemic influenza.

“As an organization we are very happy to have access to local training groups and are excited to contribute to the development of career opportunities with training for  technical and specialized positions,” said Gerry Farrell, Chief Operating Officer of the FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Texas site. 

The Skills Development Fund provides local customized training opportunities for Texas businesses and workers to increase skill levels and wages of the Texas workforce. Blinn has secured $3 million in Skills Development Fund grants since August 2014, helping local employers such as Axis Pipe & Tube, Blue Bell, Igloo, Kaemark, NOV Grant Prideco, Stanpac, and Tempur Sealy develop and implement employee safety and skills training programs.

Businesses, consortiums and trade unions with more than 100 employees are encouraged to contact Blinn at 979-209-7205 to explore partnering with the College for Skills Development Fund training opportunities. Businesses with fewer than 100 employees may be eligible for Skills for Small Business grants, and also are encouraged to contact Blinn for more information.

Blinn strengthens the economy by helping job-seekers obtain the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workplace, and by partnering with local businesses to offer training opportunities for incumbent and new employees. For more information on Blinn’s career and technical education programs, including class schedules and registration information, visit www.blinn.edu/workforce.