Last week’s 2023 BIO International Convention was yet another outstanding event, one that has already created plenty of buzz across the global biotech industry.
As always, the conference brought together an unparalleled group of scientists, businesspeople, investors, and other stakeholders from across the world of biotech. So what were the biggest conversation drivers for CDMOs? To find out, we asked John K. Moore, Director of Global Clinical Business Development, who spent four valuable days on the show floor.
For a CDMO like Vetter, what were the most important themes at this year’s event?
First off, most attendees were still excited to be back in-person at a world-class conference like this. It was fantastic to be there live, and to have so many interesting talks with contacts from across the pharma and biotech industries – current customers, prospects, consultants, suppliers, supply chain experts, media representatives, and more.
Overall, despite a lot of different challenges over the last few years, I’m happy to say that we’re still seeing steady growth across the market. At the same time, a lot of stakeholders are still very focused on a few critical areas of their businesses:
Security of supply was a major talking point, and supply chains in general are still very much top-of-mind due to the unpredictable global events of the past few years. I’m happy to say that Vetter continues to be an extremely reliable partner in that area, thanks to some proactive steps we’ve taken in our facilities and our close collaboration with our suppliers.
Sustainability was also a big topic. Lots of drug owners are trying to shrink their carbon footprint, use more recyclable materials, and be more responsible about their resource use. Speaking with some of those businesses, I loved being able to point to some of the concrete steps Vetter has taken in that area: integrating sustainability goals into our corporate strategy, joining the UN Global Compact, and benchmarking our progress against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Commitments like those have really made us an industry pioneer when it comes to responsible, sustainable, and transparent business practices.Increasing regulatory requirements are driving a lot of discussion too, especially implementation of EU GMP Annex 1. Fortunately, Vetter is already well-prepared for some of the changes that those new regulatory shifts will bring to aseptic processing.
Despite a lot of different challenges, we’re still seeing steady growth across the biotech market. At the same time, security of supply, sustainability, and increasing regulatory requirements are still big industry pressure points.
John K. Moore, Director Global Clinical Business Development
There have been big shifts in biotech’s capital markets recently. What were up-and-coming companies most focused on at BIO this year?
Licensing was an especially important topic for the small(er) biotech companies I met with, and was also a major focus of the conference overall. Over the last year especially, securing capital has become significantly more challenging for a lot of these companies – so many of them are actively seeking partners to license, fund, develop, and manufacture their products.
That trend has made Vetter a very attractive name for those small companies to have in their network, thanks to our deep experience at both ends of the typical licensing deal. On the one hand, we have extensive experience with early-stage injectable drug candidates. At the same time, we’re already a well-known and trusted partner to many of the larger organizations that may be seeking to license promising assets.
That can make Vetter a valuable contributor to asset value: having our name next to a company’s clinical product adds credibility and can boosts valuation during the dealmaking process.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Stand Up for Science.” What do you think that statement meant for Vetter?
It’s definitely a theme that resonated with us for many reasons, and one that has meant a lot to us for years now.
In our clinical business unit especially, we work with many small biotechs during those key preclinical and early-phase development steps. At that point, the focus is very much on the science of their molecules, and how it evolves during first-in-human trials. We support a wide variety of substances at that point in their development cycle, including oligonucleotides, monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins, peptides, and many more.
In our approach, we focus on blending the sound science and practical methodology our clients need to advance their clinical programs – and then demonstrate their molecules’ value to patients, care teams, investors, and licensees alike. Through our partnership with these companies, we’re constantly encountering new scientific innovations our customers want to develop, facilitating manufacturability, and supporting new molecules with reliable processes and robust analytical methods. Through it all, I’m proud to say that we set an incredibly high bar for the quality we deliver.
From what you saw at the conference, what are drug owners most looking for in their CDMO partners right now?
As basic as it sounds, reliability and trust are more important than ever. With all the uncertainty biotech companies are facing right now, they’re looking for CDMOs to be a source of stability and predictability. The drug development cycle is unpredictable by nature, so CDMOs need to show that they have what it takes to deliver batches on time and at the necessary quality standards.
At the same time, we also know that finding the right CDMO can be a challenging, time-consuming process. That’s one way Vetter really stands out during the formation of a new relationship. Regardless of the development phase, new customers really feel that we’re hyper-focused on adding value and delivering long-term satisfaction.
I think our commitment to that value is not only evident to our customers, but also to our suppliers and strategic partners. It’s very much at the core of who we are, and naturally a key feature of the new branding we launched at the conference: we’re there for those who rely on us. We’re an organization of over 6000 specialists, experts, and people who are passionate about delivering the best possible service and outputs, no matter their role or department.
And from what I saw in Boston, that passion was really clear – at our booth, of course, but also in every other encounter with our new brand. Vetter already stands for standard-setting quality, and this year’s conference just reaffirmed that with everyone we met.