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Welsh biotech firm sets up Research Centre in Ebbw Vale

Alan and Jordan Copner of Copner Biotech with the 3D scaffolds

Tata Steel’s Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre has been chosen as the research and development facility for an exciting young Welsh biotech company.

Copner Biotech aims to push the boundaries of biomedical research and engineering from its new North Gwent base at EVIC, collaborating with other innovators in biomedical research.

The firm recently lodged patents for its 3D cell-culture scaffold and Negative Space Inkjet Printer, and its innovative products now feature on leading bio-tech sales portal, 2B.

Jordan Copner explained that growing cells on a three-dimensional structure, rather than in the traditional way on a flat petri dish, yields a range of benefits. “Growing in a petri dish is not without its setbacks, and those grown in 3D exhibit more physiologically relevant characteristics,” he said.

Jordan’s father, Alan, is a software engineer and has devised innovative programmes for 3D bioprinting the structures. This method has major benefits in terms of efficiency and accuracy of results and also reduces the need for testing of new drugs and treatments on animals.

“The predominant use of bioprinting is the production of tissue-like structures for drug testing, with more and more large companies looking towards this technology as an alternative to animal testing,” commented Alan.

The firm has formed partnerships with Swansea University and also with leading Welsh biotech company, Jellagen who have pioneered the use of jellyfish collagen as the raw material for culture scaffolds.

The collaboration between the two firms has been supported by a £123,724 SMART Cymru award, and the partnership will combine the bio-inks derived from jellyfish with Copner Biotech’s advanced software. Earlier this year Copner Biotech was delighted to win the GHP International Life Sciences Award for 3D Cell Culture Technology.

Jordan and Alan both attended Cardiff University, studying Biochemistry and Physics respectively, and launched Copner Biotech last year.

Glyn Thomas, Manager in Wales for Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE,  which owns and runs Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre, said he was delighted that Copner Biotech had chosen EVIC. “We are very pleased to welcome this innovative, ground-breaking firm to the community of businesses here, and will give them every assistance to develop and grow”.

It was particularly pleasing, he said, to see this happening against the backdrop of technically advanced companies moving into the area. “Ebbw Vale and area is becoming home to many cutting edge technical and scientific companies. We have many in the Innovation Centre itself, and nearby is NDEC, the National Digital Exploitation Centre for cyber security research and training.

“It’s an exciting time for the area, and for EVIC,” he added.

Jordan added that the Innovation Centre was the perfect home for the developing business. “The facilities here are excellent, as are the staff here and we are sure this will prove the right choice for the business to develop and prosper.”