By Louis Garguilo, Chief Editor, Outsourced Pharma
That’s the abstruse thought with which I left the 2023 CDMO Leadership Awards ceremony in Manhattan.
I had the honor again this year of hosting the awards, as well as the opportunity to interview executives from the winning CDMOs – twenty-two, two-minute recorded chats, to be exact.
Walking back to my hotel after the event and interviews, “Technology is the new science” was the sentence repeating in my head.
I’ve subsequently tried to sort this out by referring back to the interview transcripts. I think now I can explain this to readers.
(Or conversely, readers might suggest I took in too much of the unfortunately pungent air that now wafts throughout New York City …)
Defining Our Era?
Technology is the new science suggests technology now surpasses the advancing science in our industry to become most influential in progressing drug and therapy programs via CDMOs.
Of course, technology has always referred to the tools, equipment, and techniques to put research and scientific discovery into practice, but now it seems the primary driver of innovation.
At the least, research and development are intertwined more securely than ever before.
This includes, among many others, specialized development and manufacturing processes and “platforms”; CRISPR-9; continuous manufacturing; disposable equipment; advanced cell-engineering techniques; specialized software to analyze and monitor the quality of materials; and of course most recent, AI and automation.
So here’s what I heard the evening of March 22nd from CDMO leaders that has spurred this editorial.
I won’t identify the professionals or their companies here, but all the recorded interviews are available. The five selected replies below (with minor editing) are among those that got me thinking specifically about technology as the new science at CDMOs.
Predominantly, executives were answering a variation of this question from me: What's the secret to winning these awards?
“We are a science and technology driven company. In terms of expansion, our investment are driven by technology. Our choices in Capex spending are driven by the needs of our customers. In numbers, we are investing more than 200 million euros this year across all 12 manufacturing sites. We cover five technology platforms: small molecules, peptides, lipids, injectables, highly potent.
I would like to also announce we are returning to oligonucleotide API manufacturing. For all of those technology platforms, we provide both API services, manufacturing services, as well as drug product.”
“Winning the ‘Capability’ category confirmed our intention to develop the best technology platform to unable our global clients to develop and manufacture biologics in the most effective way. So this award means a lot to us.
For so many years, we have developed various technology platforms to enable us to serve our customers …”
LG: Nowadays it's really about technology, isn't it?
“Yes, and that's the strength of our young company. We have a history of 12 years, but over those years, we have developed various technologies to express biologics in cells, to develop various technology platforms to produce biologics, including antibodies and bispecific antibodies, ADC, fusion protein, and recombinant protein.
And to deliver those products in a stable manner to then effectively deliver those to patients.”
LG: Let me change the subject a bit. You have customers from around the world. Is there some trend among today’s customers different than in the past?
“Customers have been more focused on innovation, and delivering the best innovations and modalities to patients. So our technology will enable them to speed up the development to get product to patients as early as we can.
We are a technology platform: C-R-D-M-O. Yes, contract research and development, as well as a manufacturing organization.
Maybe next year you will host the CRDMO awards.”
“It's a journey we started years ago, to invest in term of technologies, infrastructure, human resources, and organization.
We think the main differentiator in selecting the right CDMO is technology, and of course quality, reliability, and sustainability. We invest in infrastructure for all our sites to increase our capability, for example, to handle and produce highly potent compounds.
We reorganized our structure in order to meet our partners’ expectations when we are running new projects. This means we reshuffled our system in order to act as a single group. All our functions, starting from ‘r’ and ‘d,’ production, quality, to sourcing, planning … all working together in synergy per project to increase the efficiency of the overall system.”
“It comes down to the people. It truly comes down to the technical staff. The dedication we have, not only to our clients, but ultimately to making this a better life for our patients through the different capabilities we have.
We've expanded into new modalities, from small molecule to biologics platforms. Moving into the oligonucleotide space, which we recently rebranded to support an even larger global client base.
That's where I think this year was unique, you finally added “development” and called these the ‘CDMO Awards.’
However, we actually look at it as C-R-D-M-O Awards, because we're truly fulfilling that research end as well ...”
“It's really a team sport, especially in the service business, if you think about delivering that value to the clients they are expecting. You need to have the entire team – technical, scientific, regulatory expertise – come together to deliver on that client expectation.
If the team plays well together, is aligned and knows where ‘true north’ is, and what really matters ultimately, which is advancing client projects into the clinic and to patients in need, that is the driving force that allows us to be successful.
Our clients are dealing with very complex supply chains. They're dealing with regulatory hurdles, they're dealing with the technical and scientific hurdles.”
Perhaps this sums up an outsourcing era when technologies – and professionals at CDMOs well versed in them – not only enable new possibilities in science, but more closely enjoins those scientific advancements.
Advancements that then require even more technology at service providers.
Who knows how many more letters we’ll need to add to our Awards in the future.
In the meantime, congratulations to all the CDMO winners in 2023 .