Challenge us! BioConnection takes on full range of fill-and-finish projects

March 1, 2016 ctheodoropulos

Think of it as BioConnection 2.0. No longer a startup, nor a junior partner to Merck, the Dutch specialist in novel and innovative projects for injectable biopharmaceuticals operates its own manufacturing facility at the center of an impressive network of get-it-done partners for fill-and-finish assignments.

After celebrating 10 years working with customers through a virtual network for fill-and-finish services, at the start of this year BioConnection stepped into the real world of manufacturing when it took over from Merck & Co (MSD) the fill-and-finish facility in Oss, The Netherlands.

“It is a turning point for the company that we call BioConnection 2.0,” explained CEO Alexander Willemse. “Today we have a state-of-the-art facility where we can do a lot, but we don’t say we can do everything, so we continue to work with our long-term partners to offer a complete service.”

 Alexander Willemse, CEO, BioConnection

Alexander Willemse, CEO, BioConnection

Bringing it all together creates a one-stop shop, he says, though he thinks that term is often overused in the biopharma industry. Not all projects can be handled under one roof, entering one door of a facility and going out the other end as a completed product with all requirements fulfilled for analytics, labeling or customized packaging.

And it is certainly not the case for the kinds of innovative and sometimes exotic projects that BioConnection likes to handle.

“Our expertise is in selecting the specialists for our customers, those companies who have the right expertise and bringing them into the supply chain. We have been successfully doing this for 10 years, adapting the network to the specific needs for a customer’s project whether we are dealing with a small molecule, a biologic or nano-particle. We offer options for our customers, fitting the pieces of their needs, rather like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle,” he said.

“We solve problems, especially for young and innovative companies, and what makes us different is that we are ready to own the problem and provide a solution. We get it done,” said Willemse.

Today in addition to telephones ringing on his desk, Willemse has machines running outside his door, machines that he wants to keep busy.

“If a customer brings us a liquid and simply asks us to fill vials, then we would be happy to do it for them,” he said.

The former MSD facility in Oss is a fully certified GMP site entirely dedicated to contract manufacturing services to fulfill assignments for filling and freeze drying of injectable bio-pharmaceutical products and with plenty of spare room to take on new assignments. The Oss facility holds a commercial license, is FDA and EMA approved, and can take a customer project from lab batches all the way to market supply.

“With larger operations, a customer often needs to book their program a year in advance. We can be much more flexible than that,” he said.

“The beauty of having this facility is our ability to operate on small- to medium-sized batch fills, for clinical trial programs and the kind of small commercial productions needed for orphan drugs,” he said.

BioConnection began with a mission to help startup companies and remains true to its historical mission, which is why Willemse posted a banner on the company website that invites customers to “Challenge Us!”

And it is why last year he brought on Marijana Golubovic as Director Business Development, who says she does not shy from exotic projects.

“We are really good at connecting the right problems with the right experts,” she said. To the point that BioConnection has earned a reputation as the ‘Last-Hope Provider’ for clinically brilliant but manufacturing-challenged drug development teams.

“Typically a startup company, or else a university team with bright people and cool ideas, they are going to first try calling the biggest CMOs. Everyone knows these companies, so they call them. Yet what they hear is that their project is too small or too exotic or doesn’t fit with the CMO facility or the CMO strategy,” she said.

“Well, they can always call us,” she laughs before adding, “Nine times out of 10, we can actually help these people. As Alexander says, we will get it done for them.”

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