Welcome to the Molecule to Market round-up for January and February.
Here you’ll find a summary of the episodes we’ve released so far this year. No doubt you’ve already listened to them all twice already, but on the off chance you’ve missed one – here are all the choicest cuts.
January 6: 100 episodes of Molecule to Market: Looking back, lessons & laying the land for 101
Marking the 100th episode landmark, this special episode takes stock of what we’ve achieved and looks forward to where we might be headed. As it’s a special occasion, Raman swaps seats with journalist Dan Stanton – editor at BioProcess International – and talks about the Molecule to Market journey so far.
“I remember being on a flight from Boston to San Francisco, then looking at the time and going, “Oh my god, it’s a seven-hour flight!” I had no idea this country was so big! I was like, I could get back to Europe! So, I had seven hours to think about what the podcast was going to be about. By the time I got to San Francisco, I’d come up with a name and a concept and, you know, I knew there was nothing like this in this space.”
January 13: The CDMO with a capital D
…No, not a DDMO, but the emphasis is very much on drug development. In this episode, we took a deep dive into the outsourcing space of the global drug development sector. Our guest was the font of knowledge that is Harry Christiaens, CEO at Ardena.
“…In many of these old doses, you’d find methods like thin-layer chromatography, which was no longer accepted. They had to be replaced by HPLC methods. We were advising our customers about this, and they came back and said, “You know, don’t have time to do this. We’re working on new drugs. Why don’t you do it? Why don’t you help us develop these methods?”
But we didn’t have a lab. So, we said, “Well, you know, maybe we should establish the lab?” And that’s when we decided to actually transform our business away from consultancy into drug products and analytical development and – later on – also into manufacturing.”
Harry Christiaens, CEO at Ardena
January 20: The puzzle-solving lifelong science geek
Claire Aldridge, the Northern Texas-based Chief Strategy officer at Form Bio, talks about her experience as an investor, academic, and – most importantly entrepreneur in the life science sector.
“Right before I defended my Ph.D., my father was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and given a little bit less than two years to live. That was in 1996. And luckily, he was able to get into a clinical trial and he was a responder. So, I’m happy to report that this past summer we got to celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss with him and my mother.
But that really gave me some thoughts on, “How can I do that?” How can I be part of that part of giving people more time with their husbands, their fathers, their children, and their siblings? My career has always been in how do we translate scientific discovery – that someone else discovered and turn that into products? And so, while my career has very much been a mosey, the thread that has gone through all of it is how do we take scientific discovery and translate it into something that can benefit patients or humanity at large?”
Claire Aldridge, Cheif Strategy Officer at Form Bio
January 27: Industry insights you can’t afford to miss
Raman finally landed long-time M2M target Ian Tzeng, Managing director at L.E.K Consulting. They talked about the pharmaceutical and biotechnology supply chain.
“…There’s this whole market that supports the life sciences industry, consisting of contract manufacturers, contract research, contract commercial services, and I had an opportunity to start working on a lot of those projects as we got inbound leads from various clients. I found that I had suddenly developed a little bit of expertise, so about two or three years into that I decided, “Hey, let me focus on this.” And discovered it’s really a fascinating part of the pharmaceutical industry, helping people figure out how to bring molecules to the market – to name the podcast a little bit!
But it’s remarkable because on the life sciences side, we focused on things like IP portfolio optimization, or thinking about the revenue potential or partnerships and deals, but sometimes figuring out, “How does it actually happen?”
Ian Tzeng, Managing director at L.E.K Consulting
February 3: The CDMO CEO on the frontline of a Covid mission
Raman and Tom Ross, President and CEO of Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing (GRAM) – discussed matters such as passive investment in developing businesses, and how to move away from so-called lumpy supply chains.
“…In the very beginning, we were focused primarily on clinical work, and one of the things that when you’re starting up a business – that a lot of people don’t understand – is in the pharma world, the fixed costs of being in a regulated industry is very high.
We were doing mostly clinical work at the time, and whether we’re making one batch or 100 batches, the cost of being able to do that in an FDA world is very high. One of the first things I had to do when I got involved as a CEO, was to transition from just being clinical, to being clinical AND commercial. We still do that today, ten years after I took over – and it’s a great combination.”
Tom Ross – President and CEO of GRAM
February 10: Diversity in life sciences
This is a special ‘look back’ episode on the topic of diversity. Raman hand-picked excerpts from different episodes where guests discuss the topic of diversity in the industry. You’ll hear the thoughts of Barbara Morgan, Global VP of pharma and biotech at Kerry; Tia Lyles-Williams, Founder and CEO of LucasPye Bio; Jeff Dill, CEO of Vynamic; and Andrew Moore, GM of Pfizer Center One.
“You know, for me, if you go back – and I am a scientist, right? – so let’s go back to the data: Diverse teams lead to better outcomes. So, to NOT do it is just kind of being silly, right?
And if I look for the top three things around that, it’s really: Unconscious bias is real. And it’s bias, not prejudice. When you’re doing diversity and inclusion, it’s probably a little uncomfortable, right? When you’re managing people that are totally different from you, it’s gonna take some more time and effort for you to manage them. They’re some of your most important people because they have strengths that are different from yours. You should use them… Make them feel included and respected, and they’re going to give you something that you’re not going to get from others.
Lastly, the data speaks for itself and it’s literally on every measure: It’s innovation, it’s employee engagement, it’s financial results. So, I guess the better question is: Why not do it?”
Barbara Morgan, Global VP of pharma and biotech at Kerry
February 10: Network like a pro
Ahead of event season kicking off this month, Raman covered his TOP TIPS for networking (and being a good person in general).
“It’s worth saying that networking, making contacts and striking new relationships… It really is the grease that keeps the wheels of our sector going. This human element is so, so important.
What I found is you can make contact at an event that might turn into a customer, or an employee, or an investor, or a colleague or a good referrer, five years down the line – and it all starts by making those contacts.”
February 24: Founding and selling three bio CDMOs – Part 1
In the FIRST of a two-part series, Raman picks the brains of Mark Bamforth, entrepreneur, mentor, and investor in life sciences. Mark’s almost unbelievable career ranges from oil barrels and brewing to creating three different CDMOs over a period of 12 years and generating over 1200 jobs in the process.
“I spent 12 years building contract manufacturing businesses to deliver products for other biotech companies. Each of those businesses were startups or carve outs – we grew them and eventually sold them; then set up the next one. The last one sold about 10 months ago, but for the last three years, I’ve been getting more involved with other companies.
I’ve sat on about half a dozen boards, mentoring, investing, and I’ve tried to help those companies be successful, whilst also looking at new areas for potential business formation – something that’s always ongoing in the background.”
Mark Bamforth, entrepreneur, mentor, and life sciences investor
Check back soon for our March round-up and get in touch with your podcast recommendations for 2023!