BioNetwork at A-B Tech Receives More than $1 Million in Funding
A-B Tech Community College received $1,092,528 in continued funding from the North Carolina Community College System for the services provided by the BioNetwork location hosted by the college for the 2015-16 academic year.
BioNetwork provides high-quality economic and workforce development for the biotechnology and life science industries across North Carolina through education, training, and laboratory resources. Industries served include food, beverage, dietary supplements, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. Examples of educational topics include current good manufacturing practices, laboratory skills, and quality systems.
Through the Natural Products Laboratory, BioNetwork serves business and research clients by offering analytical testing as well as hourly rental of well-equipped lab space for independent work. “Entrepreneurs, students, and small businesses are able to benefit from our lab resources and we are able to continuously learn from them about the needs of the industries or research areas they represent,” said Laboratory Coordinator Marie Knight. These industry sectors currently include food, beverage, natural products, cosmetics, and biofuels companies.
BioNetwork is also in the process of opening a test kitchen. “It is a small-scale hybrid laboratory-kitchen where clients will be able to rent equipment to work on formulation before scaling up to a production facility like Blue Ridge Food Ventures. The test kitchen was created in response to many requests for an available food-safe facility dedicated solely to development of food products prior to placing on the retail market,” said Coordinator Andrew Capps.
Additionally, BioNetwork promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) awareness, life science education, and career connections for students and teachers through classroom visits, professional development workshops, and curriculum support across North Carolina. BioNetwork’s newly revamped engagement services are designed to do just that – engage the public in biotechnology and life science principles. This is achieved through the work of a group of educators who prepare and deliver fun, career-focused hands-on learning experiences to people across the state.
The experiences help students to see the real world applications of classroom concepts, foster STEM confidence in people of all ages, and expose the public to non-traditional STEM careers that are available here in North Carolina as well as the many STEM related programs offered by the North Carolina Community College System.
“These services expose students to lab equipment and techniques that they wouldn’t normally have access to, especially those students still in their formative years, hopefully inspiring a new generation of scientists and STEM superstars,” said Summer Cortinas, Engagement Coordinator for BioNetwork.