Of all the companies located at Pivot Park, BioConnection has been there the longest. Started as a spin-off of the former MSD/Organon together with Mibiton and BOM. BioConnection has undergone rapid development in recent years: from a consultant/broker without its own facilities to a GMP production company that offers Drug Product related services worldwide to mainly small to medium-sized pharmaceutical players. Marco Jaspers has been closely involved in these changes since 2014.
“BioConnection was founded to market the overcapacity of a clinical production line of MSD/Organon at the time and to have synergy between the development expertise of Organon and young biotech companies ,” says Jaspers. Here innovative sterile medicines were filled into vials and syringes. Precise work, for which strict requirements apply. Organon had a separate facility for the production of these clinical medicines (which still need to be tested for efficacy in the clinic): the RY building. In 2005, on the day RY was opened, BioConnection was founded to make Organon’s overcapacity and development expertise available to other pharmaceutical companies. “In 2016 BioConnection took over the RY building from MSD and renamed it to Aletta Jacobs building. Fortunately, an important number of key personnel also made the move, so that production and quality were guaranteed.”
Jaspers has been working in Oss since 2014 and has been closely involved in the change from consultant/broker to independent CMO (Contract Manufacturing Organisation) within BioConnection. He studied Molecular Sciences in Wageningen and obtained his PhD at the ETH Zurich on research into luminous bacteria. “I liked academic work. It is satisfying to see that luminous bacteria have now found a practical application in detecting pollution in drinking water in developing countries, but after my PhD I did not aspire to an academic career: I wanted to broaden my horizons.” After a job as a management consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and project manager at TNO, BioConnection came my way. Jaspers started out as Program Manager. “Together with a team from BioConnection, customer and other network partners, I coordinated the production of a batch, i.e. a production run on the factory line for a medicine that needs to be filled for a customer. The production of such a batch requires a lot of preparation so that the quality is guaranteed and the product is safe for the patient. That takes a good three months. The production process itself is fast; in a few days the medicine is produced, filled and ready to be tested. Everything follows strict rules: the so-called Good Manufacturing Practice or GMP. We produce candidate medicines in the clinical phase, but also fill commercial medicines for the European or US market. No bulk drug product like aspirins but smaller batches of specialist medicines for rarer indications.”
Jaspers is now Director of Program Management and Business Development. “BioConnection has grown enormously lately. From 10 employees in 2015 to about 40 employees now and will continue to grow with the new expansion of production capacity. Our service package is getting wider and wider. The starting point for the various services is always a (candidate) medicine supplied by the client. BioConnection can then take on various phases of manufacturing and analytical development, ‘fill and finish’ including lyophilisation, packaging, labelling, and stability studies. For this purpose, the company has the Aletta Jacobs building at its disposal along with other GMP and development facilities via network partners. “On the third floor of the Aletta Jacobs building is the automatic production line for the fill & finish of medicines in vials and syringes. We have just started building a larger line there to meet the demand for bigger batches. On the fifth floor we now have cleanrooms, where we offer manual filling, so we can also produce smaller batches in a variety of packaging materials. This offers a solution for biopharmaceutical companies that only need limited quantities of Drug Product to support the early clinical phase. Or for companies that, for example, want to assemble a medical device aseptically. We are also looking for partners who want to bring their own aseptic production process with us. We know a lot about GMP and have enough space to build cleanrooms for production processes (e.g. cell therapy) for partners who want to work with us.”
BioConnection cooperates a lot with other companies at Pivot Park, including ChemConnection. Jaspers indicates that BioConnection has big plans. “All our facilities meet the highest quality requirements, as laid down in GMP protocols and ISO certificates, and the requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration. We supply medicines and quality to customers from e.g. the US, Europe, Israel, Taiwan. We will set up a larger line within two years, so that we can produce more medicines for the consumer market.”