National Apprenticeship Week 2019

National Apprenticeship Week 2019

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we asked our talented Apprentice Laboratory Technicians, Joe and Karen, to share their experiences of the programme.


Joe Ball

I joined Leaf Expression Systems in August 2017 after finishing my A-levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics. I chose this route instead of accepting my offer to study a degree in physics because I wanted to gain a recognised qualification and work experience at the same time. I also believe that learning about a topic and then putting that knowledge straight into practice is a great way to learn.

During my time at Leaf I have been taught a lot of theoretical and practical knowledge and techniques like: agroinfiltration, plate streaking, culture growing, protein purification, media/buffer/solution creation, and more. I have also learned a great deal about the safety precautions and training involved and how important safe operating procedures along with risk assessments are in this industry, especially when using expensive and potentially hazardous equipment (if untrained) such as: autoclaves, orbital shakers/incubators, heat stirrers, infiltrators. This is alongside the use of a vast range of chemicals, buffers, solutions and more.

This role has surpassed my expectations and I have learned so much more than I thought I would. It has also developed my skills in areas like team working, communication, planning and research, and self-management to name a few. Overall it has been massively positive experience and I would recommend this route.


Karen Annison

I left school with science GCSEs & A-Levels, I wanted to pursue a career in science, but I wasn’t interested in going to university, so I started looking for apprenticeships within the science field.  I spotted the advert for this apprenticeship which seemed like an opportunity to get a qualification through working as I prefer to learn through hands-on experience instead of working in a classroom.

In the 18 months that I’ve been an apprentice, I’ve learned more than I thought I would, and I’ve been able to put practical techniques that I learned at school into use working within this company. The key things that I have learned include writing SOPs and EHS documentation, as well as key transferable skills such as pipetting and microbiological techniques. I also sit on the EHS committee and I am a first aider within the company. I would like to carry on working in the science sector and progress up the career ladder and work through the different fields within                                                          the industry.




CEO Update from Simon Saxby

Since our last update in October 2018, I am delighted to report that a lot has happened at Leaf in just a few short months. We have added some new members to the team to strengthen our depth and capability, we have secured a number of commercial contracts and collaborations with both pharma and biotech companies, and in January this year Richard Hart joined us as Business Development Director to lead the growth of our contract development and manufacturing services business.

As a big supporter of apprenticeship programmes, I am also pleased to report that our two apprentices are about to “graduate” and complete their apprenticeships. Both Joe and Karen have demonstrated the value of combining college-based learning with on the job training, and we are delighted that they are staying with us as valued members of the team.

The global CDMO market is forecast for further significant growth, with some estimates predicting that the global value of outsourcing will grow to over $87.6 billion by 2027. The fact that manufacturing biologics in plants is finally emerging as a genuine commercially viable option for reducing the time to market and the cost of drugs and vaccines to patients means that with our Hypertrans® transient plant expression technology, Leaf is perfectly placed to take a leading role in helping to deliver new and better drugs, free from animal derived products, that will lead to improved patient outcomes in the future.

We are also excited to announce the launch of our Products Page on the Leaf website! The team have produced a number of products that exemplify the production capability of Hypertrans® in terms of yield and functionality, and the products themselves are valuable research reagents which we are making available through our website. Our ‘first wave’ of products include an antibody, and enzyme, a virus-like particle and an allergen – all of which can be found here. We will be expanding the range of products that are available, including products that are difficult to express in mammalian or microbial systems, but which do express well and more cost effectively with Hypertrans® in plants. These will include cytokines, growth factors etc that are absolutely necessary for the manufacture of advanced therapies but are also extremely expensive to produce using current methods.

And last, but certainly not least, we were proud to be selected as a Finalist in the “Excellence in Life Sciences” category in the South Norfolk Business Awards 2019.

These are exciting times for Leaf and we are looking forward to tackling the challenges that we, and everyone else in the industry face, in improving the quality of life of people around the World.