Inspiring the next generation of engineers

Some of our staff took time out of their busy schedule last week to visit George Abbot School, in Guildford, Surrey, to share what it is like working for a specialist design and construction company servicing highly regulated industries including biotechnology, pharmaceutical, life sciences and radiopharmaceutical.

Farzad Mohebati, Senior Architect, Nadira Adjali, Principal Mechanical Building Services Engineer, Hazel Hatley, Process Engineer, and Emma Dawas, HR Manager visited the school for its Career Fair, in which local and national businesses were invited to share what career prospects are available across varying fields.

The team talked to students from years 9, 11, 12 and 13, about the types of subjects and qualifications that would be required for a career at Scitech and explained what opportunities such a career could offer. This was aided by a range of guides and material provided by the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) aimed specifically at the year groups represented at the careers day.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager at Scitech, said: “It was a real pleasure to be back in a school taking part in events such as this, talking to students about career opportunities in Design, Engineering and Construction. The George Abbot students were highly engaged when talking to our experts in Process and Building Services Engineering and Architecture in particular. It was also really nice to exercise our Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and give something back to our local community.”

If you are interested in our team visiting your school, contact our Careers Office.

Visit our website for details of current job vacancies.

National Engineering Day: Scitech improving lives through engineering

At Scitech, we provide consultancy, design, construction, qualification and validation for high value manufacturing, research, emerging technologies, and highly regulated industries including biotechnology, pharmaceutical, life sciences and radiopharmaceutical. Our engineers are at the heart of what we do, working with and supporting our clients to upgrade existing facilities, debottlenecking and improving manufacturing capacity, developing new processes or designing a new facility.

The companies and organisations that we support are involved in drug discovery, diagnostics, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, all of which help to treat illnesses and keep people healthy. We also support other industries, such as the animal health sector – working with companies that develop and manufacture veterinary medicines – consumer health companies who manufacture vitamins and other healthcare products – all of which contribute to improving lives.

Designing a new facility

Through our work, we have supported many companies to scale up production, moving a product from small scale to large scale production whilst maintaining efficiency and safeguarding the integrity of the medicine. The rapid scaling of existing production processes is something that proved absolutely critical during the COVID-19 pandemic and is an ongoing need across the pharmaceutical sector. Often when scaling for commercial production, a company will require the design of a new facility, requiring the input of the full suite of specialist engineers spanning design, process engineers, mechanical engineers and those with expertise in building services, qualification and validation, for example.

We are currently supporting a biotechnology company with a large expansion project at its existing facility. The project involves significant new build and refurbishment on an operational site, with regulatory compliance drivers, including controlled environments and processes. Our engineers are supporting all stages of the project from procurement, through to construction, commissioning, and validation. The result will lead to significant increase in the manufacturing capacity of recombinant human albumin – a constituent of biologic therapeutic products that is used to optimise drug dosing and enhance therapeutic performance of active pharmaceutical agents.

Our engineers support projects such as this across the UK and Europe. Through our European team, we supported the development of a research and development (R&D) facility allowing clinical phase 3 cGMP production within an existing building. Our specialist engineers designed and built the new laboratory facility, ensuring that it was compliant with BSL3 and cGMP guidelines.

Developing new processes

While process engineers were integral to the multi-disciplinary teams mentioned in the examples above, we feel they deserve a closer look for the impact and value they can provide. Our expert process engineers are integral to the success of our projects and are consulted throughout the project life-cycle.

For example, we were approached by a biotechnology company to provide a front-end engineering study, including a feasibility study and an extended study for design optioneering, for a standalone large scale manufacturing facility that incorporated its innovative reaction vessel. Our engineers developed different iterations for the facility design considering different scales of bioreactors and downstream manufacturing process, process scheduling and options to implement the services and utilities to assist with the client’s investment strategy. This was to ensure the client could make the right choices based on their business needs and desired outcome.

Our process engineers lead workshops to define the fundamentals of process, engineering, biologics, and chemistry in a combined approach and formulate the requirements for the required facility. It led to the development of an overall programme and cost plans to estimate the full turnkey delivery of the commercial manufacturing facility inclusive of the design, User Requirement Specifications development, procurement, installation, commissioning, construction services.

Improving manufacturing capacity

At Scitech, many of our clients are looking to improve manufacturing capacity. Technology is constantly evolving and improving, and over time companies need to replace and upgrade existing equipment or will look to make improvements to existing production lines to maximise the output they can achieve. Often the need for capacity improvements is driven by commercial need and is essential to ensure that the medicines, devices and healthcare products are available for members of the public when they need them. We are proud to play a part in supporting companies to meet this demand.

For example, our engineers at our European office were approached to support an increase in manufacturing capacity at a secondary packaging plant that packaged ophthalmic prescription drugs. They supported the client with the development of user requirement specifications for 33 machines and provided final equipment evaluation and selection. The team developed the line layouts taking into account building restrictions before undertaking and documenting all qualification and validation according to required regulations. The result was the successful installation of five secondary packaging lines providing a total production capacity of 57 million packs per annum.

Specialist expertise

Many of our engineers hold specific expertise in niche areas, becoming subject matter experts in, for example, specific equipment installations and within certain fields. This is particularly the case with our radiopharmaceuticals subject matter experts who are widely recognised and respected in the industry. Their expertise has seen us provide consultancy on radiopharmaceutical facilities around the world and led to a large scale project with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London which spanned 10 years.

During this project, our specialist team supported the trust to relocate its diagnostic scanning cameras from the basement scanning facility in St Thomas’ Hospital in London to a new scanning suite on the first floor. The team also converted the old scanning facility into a new radioisotope manufacturing facility for Research and Development (R&D) and for clinical manufacturing of isotopes for use by the new first floor diagnostic scanning facility.

The diagnostic scanning facility improves lives by providing early indications of cancer sites within the body. The radio-labelled isotope mimics glucose which the cancer needs to grow within the body. On introduction to the body the cancer site absorbs the radioactive glucose which is detected by the scanning camera, the image of which can see the radioisotope as a bright spot where cancer sites are present. This technique allows clinicians to establish the size and location of cancers. It is then possible to determine if a particular course of treatment has stabilised (same number of spots) or is reducing (fewer spots) a cancer, or indeed if a cancer has grown/worsened (more spots) which may necessitate a change in treatment or an increase in dose or intensity. The early detection and effective treatment of cancer clearly benefits society by reducing the amount, and duration, of unpleasant cancer treatment (for example chemotherapy).

The scanning facility uses radioisotopes made within the ground floor radioisotope manufacturing facility. For this project, we provided all design stages from feasibility design to detailed design of facility and utilities. We performed all specialist equipment integration, commissioning planning and support and performed all quality testing and associated document closure for the medicinal and nuclear regulations. The design stages included the development of the layout for the particle accelerator, its concrete bunker, the specialist radioisotope handling equipment and the associated support quality control laboratories to meet the hospital user requirements.

Qualification and validation

Our CQV business unit, with our team of validation engineers, has a vital role to play in assuring quality and validating processes, systems and equipment within laboratories and manufacturing facilities.

When taking a product from R&D to commercialisation time to market is critical. Our team can support companies from project inception and ensure assurity of audit compliance, all of which brings drugs to patients quicker.

In addition, we are uniquely positioned to be able to deploy an engineer or team very rapidly – something that is critical if a problem has developed on a production line meaning that manufacturing has had to stop. Our engineers are able to quickly respond and support the qualification and validation following the installation of new equipment or repairs meaning that any downtime is kept to a minimum. This means that any pause in the production of the vaccines, medicines and other therapeutics are kept to a minimum – something that is increasingly important during times when there are shortages of drugs.

We are proud of the contribution that our engineers, and all of our team members, provide to deliver quality results for our customers, helping to ensure that the laboratories and facilities operate as they should within the stringent regulations required.

Proud sponsors of ISPE UK Affiliate Annual Event 2022

Scitech is proud to announce that we are sponsoring the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) UK Affiliate annual conference, which will take place at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds on 10 November.

For the second consecutive year, we are platinum sponsors of the event which will see members and industry guests congregate for an exciting programme exploring topics such as the challenges of Annexe 1 with innovation in rapid H2O2 validation; carbon reduction engineering in the aesthetic Pharma Industry; and insights from the MHRA on challenges of the pandemic and future direction.

As long standing ISPE UK members, Scitech values the knowledge sharing and cross sector insight that the annual conference provides.

Colin Parks, Development & Strategy Director, said: “We are delighted to sponsor this year’s annual conference and award ceremony. As a specialist design, engineering and consultancy firm, delivering cutting edge, intelligent solutions for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, life sciences and technology sectors, we value the work of ISPE. We are looking forward to connecting with colleagues, clients and industry partners at the event.”

Scitech strengthens position as it looks to the future

At Scitech, as we move through our 20th year, our specialist design, construction and validation company is strengthening its organisational structure through the development of dedicated business units. Our new structure will ensure Scitech can respond, at pace, to the current and future demands of our sector.

The changes signify a strategic move that builds on our strengths in delivering first-class design, engineering and construction to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, life sciences and wider technology-driven sectors, and reinforces our position as a market leader in the delivery of QCS services.

Our Design and Engineering, QCS and Construction business units will target new opportunities and see Scitech grow our homegrown talent and expertise across all regions within the UK, Northern Europe and developing further opportunities in North America.

As we expand into the Northern regions of the UK, we are continuing to build highly capable and responsive teams that are dispersed across the country.

Dave Grant, Managing Director at Scitech, says: “This is an exciting time for all of us at Scitech as we celebrate 20 years of success and also prepare for the next 20 years. We are putting the structures and teams in place to ensure that we are ready to respond to opportunities within the sector as we continue to grow, ensuring that we support our existing clients, and give exciting development opportunities to our colleagues.”

The new structure has led to several promotions and new positions within the company and a number of new hires into strategically significant roles. We also continue to nurture up and coming talent through our apprenticeship and junior roles.

Discover the latest news from Scitech and see what new career opportunities are available at Scitech.

Double the celebrations as Scitech marks Employee Ownership Day 2022

Today marks Employee Ownership Day – the national celebration of employee ownership and the chance to raise awareness of the positive impact of employee ownership (EO). At Scitech, in our 20th anniversary year, we are not only celebrating our status as an employee-owned company, but we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of becoming employee owned.

We believe employee ownership makes Scitech a special place to work, bringing benefits to everyone who works at the company which, in turn, ensures we can deliver successful projects for our clients.

Being employee-owned means that everyone has a say via our employee forums, and we all share our success across the business.

How does employee ownership work at Scitech?

We retain management and board structures along with associated reporting lines, as employee owners we are not involved in every decision. However, we all have a say on the decisions that impact us. With no external owners, shareholders, or investors, we are in control of our own destiny. We all share in the success and profits of the business and decide how to re-invest or distribute any surpluses.

This has a positive impact on the ethos of the company, creating a sense of empowerment and ownership in everyone, regardless of their level of seniority.

Dave Grant, Managing Director at Scitech, explains: “One of the aims of the original owners of Scitech was that ownership and control would always remain within Scitech. As the company evolved and some of the original owners retired or moved on, this became more difficult. So, in 2012, to ensure that ownership continued to be held by our employees, the Scitech Employee Ownership Trust was established. Ten years later, I feel that everyone would agree that it contributes to achieving a great company culture and in making Scitech a special place to work.”

Scitech will be celebrating 10 years of employee ownership and 20 years of Scitech with a special event for staff in July. Keep an eye out for updates via our LinkedIn account.

You can find out more about Scitech’s history on our ‘Who we are’ page on our website and about employee-ownership on the Employee Ownership Association website.

Celebrating 20 years of Scitech

In 2002, a group of like-minded specialists in the design, engineering and construction industry took the leap and formed Scitech. Their vision was to create a company that was at the cutting edge of engineering solutions targeted specifically at the pharmaceutical and life science sectors. They sought freedom and had a desire for flexibility to provide innovative solutions that serviced the bespoke needs of their customers focused on delivering results and making a difference.

Twenty years on their mission still holds true and their small team has grown substantially with colleagues based across the breadth of the UK and beyond.

Scitech have established offices in Antwerp, Cardiff and have custom built a head office in Godalming, Surrey. Scitech’s reach now extends beyond the pharmaceutical and life science sector to include many other sectors that also depend on highly regulated and controlled R&D manufacturing processes.

To mark its 20th year, Scitech’s employees share their memories and reflect on what they feel makes Scitech unique.

Nicola Hale (South East Operations Manager) one of the founding members of Scitech, said: “We set up Scitech because we wanted to do interesting work, enjoy our work and be in charge of our destiny. The company has grown but that mentality is still very much there. It is helping us to attract the type of people who like tackling novel challenges and finding solutions that make a difference to our clients. I love that we can work with small start-ups and see that we are really adding value – it’s very rewarding.”

Duncan Sansom, Construction Operations Manager, has worked with Scitech for 18 years. He added: “Scitech has always had a ‘can-do’ attitude. We are fortunate enough to work in cutting edge sectors with numerous experts in their field, making the whole project (concept to construction and validation) a challenging and rewarding experience. The family atmosphere within Scitech has allowed me to progress from joining as a civil engineer to a construction manager, project manager and now my current role. All in-house departments work together to deliver excellent projects for our clients meaning I have been able to maintain many long-term relationships with clients and colleagues within Scitech.”

Greg Barthram, a recent employee to join Scitech as an Electrical Engineer said: “I was attracted to Scitech when I read about the company’s values – the attraction was immediate. Employee wholeness and employee happiness in turn provide for better customer service, so it’s a win-win for me. I love innovative approaches and Scitech’s results speak for themselves. Companies who trust their employees matter a great deal to me, and the opportunity to set my own work-life balance is immense.”

Scitech prides itself on ensuring the health and happiness of its employees, and their families, through a combination of flexible working practices and well-being support initiatives. As a 100% employee-owned company, it also fosters a culture of participation, transparency and engagement with employees having a say in how the company is run via its Employee Owners Forum.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager, said: “Employee Ownership (EO) is all about collective responsibility – we all strive to create a working environment where people feel fulfilled and rewarded. Our positive ‘EO’ culture is one of main reasons we have such motivated, happy staff.”

Find out more about Scitech and what career opportunities are available.