February 02, 2022
4 min read

Why New England Needs Training in Laboratory Automation

The life sciences industry in Massachusetts and surrounding region is exploding, which means more jobs and skills training opportunities. For reference, the metro Boston region has the largest biotech cluster in the nation. 4.67% of employment in Massachusetts is in the life sciences compared to just 1% for the country as a whole.

graph of the growth in biopharma employment in Massachusetts

Life sciences employment in Massachusetts has grown at start-ups and established companies by 92% over 15 years. Many of these jobs are for scientists developing new drugs and engineers designing the latest testing hardware. However, supporting roles are also in-demand, including automation specialists, R&D technicians, and field service engineers. People in these jobs need to understand industry 4.0 and automation concepts for various testing, sequencing, and manufacturing applications, including:

  • Liquid handling storage, retrieval and dispensing, process and batch control
  • Process automation valves
  • Sensors and controls for pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Robots and XYZ gantry actuators for highly-repetitive sequencing

In Boston, start-up SeluxDX develops precision diagnostics for infectious diseases. They dramatically reduced the time it takes physicians to prescribe the most effective antibiotics for patients with an infection, reducing hospital stays and de-escalating the cycle of antibiotic overuse and resistance. This groundbreaking system uses equipment from Festo, a leading industrial automation company, which improves throughput and guarantees reliability and accuracy in its process.

Festo dosing heads and handing portals

What can you do to contribute to this industry growth as a local educator?

Prepare students to enter the life sciences industry with highly customizable, industry 4.0-ready training systems that emulate laboratory automation processes from Festo Didactic, Festo's education division. Solutions include:

As an educational institution, you can take advantage of support from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Their Workforce Development Capital and STEM Equipment Grants will award institutions funding to purchase and install life sciences equipment and technology that will enable them to effectively prepare students for high-demand career opportunities in the life sciences (applications are due March 11 and March 31, 2022).

In addition, you may be able to apply federal emergency relief funds, like ESSER, or find other grant opportunities to apply for on our grant resource page, towards these learning solutions.

There is tremendous growth and support for the life sciences industry in Massachusetts, which translates to more opportunities for your students and the local economy.

If you would like help training your students in laboratory automation skills, AET Labs can help! We can help you develop a narrative for a grant application and provide equipment and technology recommendations for your lab.