A Message from CEO and Founder Haro Hartounian, Ph.D.
2022 has already been a year packed with growth and advancement, fueled by the need for regenerative medicine and the individuals working to bring new therapies to life. As we dive into the second half of 2022, I’d like to share what BioCentriq has accomplished thus far this year, and where we are heading as we begin to look toward 2023. From being acquired to working on exciting new projects, to opening the brand new Digital Capability Center and expanding our capacity, 2022 has brought a lot of news for us to share in just a few short months.
Even though this news was made public in May, it still excites me to announce that BioCentriq has been acquired for $73 million by GC, a South Korean company founded in 1967 with a major footprint across healthcare sectors. I’m proud to say that BioCentriq was sold to GC only after a bid involving over 50 companies, a testament to the value of what began as a small startup and evolved into what BioCentriq is today: a much-needed CDMO specializing in cell and gene therapy with wide-reaching capabilities.
We’re excited to continue our work developing and manufacturing autologous and allogenic cell and gene therapies with the support of GC behind us. We will operate similarly to other GC owned companies, maintaining our independence as a stand-alone operation and preserving our established identity and culture. You can read more about our recent acquisition here.
With GC’s support, we’re able to continue expanding both our staff and our capacity, an exciting prospect that’s already underway.
BioCentriq is Expanding
One of my favorite aspects of BioCentriq is the passion and dedication of our staff. Each individual works tirelessly to advance our offerings, which is part of the reason why we’re able to keep expanding. Our team continues to double in size year after year, and by the end of 2022, we expect to have close to 100 people on staff.
Beyond our team, our capacity is expanding, and our facilities are growing in both size and number. As of now, we have two ISO-7 clean rooms in Newark, New Jersey, in which we are currently manufacturing and releasing material for clinical trials.
The construction of two more clean rooms in South Brunswick, New Jersey is now complete, and they will come online before the end of the year. As of today, there is availability in those rooms for clients who wish to manufacture product in 2023. Beyond that, we are in the design phase for expanding into adjacent space in South Brunswick, which will include two more clean rooms and will further expand our pilot plant, supporting labs and infrastructure, as well as warehousing, quarantine rooms, and additional quality control labs. These clean rooms will be completed at the end of 2023, and we are thrilled to already be speaking with companies that are ready—or nearly ready—to tech transfer in programs to be manufactured in these new rooms.
Overall, BioCentriq will have a total of six clean rooms by the end of 2023 to better serve our industry partners, and we are actively exploring additional opportunities to further expand in order to keep pace with market demand.
Projects and Partnerships
As a dynamic CDMO, BioCentriq has been partnering and collaborating with biotech companies for a while. Some of the partnerships we’ve previously announced are with Pall Corporation, Kytopen®, CaroGen, and Terumo. Now, as we expand our staff and capacity, we can serve even more companies by offering our niche expertise.
We are also supporting a Phase 1 clinical trial of a proprietary allogeneic platform that will focus on ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to treat and ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, making this new treatment option highly needed. We’re thrilled that as part of this partnership, the team that has brought this innovative new platform to life will work alongside BioCentriq. This unique collaborative approach is one of the things about BioCentriq that our partners value most. Stay tuned for the official announcement of this exciting new collaboration.
I’m also happy to say that we have an upcoming project (that has yet to be officially announced) that will address the need for scalable, comprehensive approaches for endotoxin and adventitious virus removal that can be readily available to the AAV industry. While viral and endotoxin clearance strategies have been widely used in the monoclonal antibody (mAb) industry, it is a relatively new topic in the field of gene therapy. Our expert team members will work together to address this topic and tackle pressing needs that can be used to advance the AAV industry.
Digital Capability Center New Jersey
On July 14, we held the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new McKinsey Digital Capability Center, which was developed in partnership with the New Jersey Innovation Institute and is proudly operated by BioCentriq. McKinsey has 12 such centers worldwide that serve as advanced tech-enabled innovation and learning hubs that guide the imagination and realization of an organization’s digital future. The New Jersey Center, however, is the first in the global network to specialize in life sciences, with a focus on cell and gene therapies (CGT).
This state-of-the-art learning facility helps biopharma companies to deploy digital capabilities, reimagine their operations functions beyond the four walls of a manufacturing facility, and scale the changes across workforces. It features a model cell-therapy-manufacturing facility to provide biopharma companies with an immersive learning experience that simulates the journey to operational excellence.
If you are interested in learning more about the Digital Capability Center or bringing your team in for training, you can learn more and contact McKinsey here.
Participating in Industry Events
Earlier this month, Rutger’s University held the Bio Manufacturing Innovation Summit, which brought together advanced bio-manufacturing thought leaders, leading spin-out and growth company innovators, and decision-makers within the industry. The conference was meant to stimulate innovation, impact, and value creation, and to “ensure resilient, adaptable supply chains, efficient re-shoring, on-shoring, and cutting-edge pharma manufacturing solutions to meet demand and accelerate the development and production of essential novel therapeutics and vaccines, in the US and throughout the globe.”
It was my honor to be invited to participate in this conference. In conversation with other panelists, I spoke with other industry experts about the roles a university can play in promoting cell and gene therapy collaborations between themselves and the industry, and I used BioCentriq as the perfect example.
If you would like to read more about my participation in this conference, click here.
Our team members have also been on stage this year at Bio International, ASGCT, ISCT and Phacilitate’s Advanced Therapies Connect. We are grateful to be able to join our peers on stage and at these events to share insights, collaborate, and work towards standardization where possible.
Before the year is over, we’ll be attending the BioNJ Manufacturing Summit and Contract Pharma’s Annual Contracting & Outsourcing Conference, both of which are being held right here in New Jersey. We will also travel to BioTech Week in Boston and ARM’s annual Meeting on the Mesa. We look forward to seeing many of you there.
Workforce Development Programs
As you can see, BioCentriq has been busy. But with the passion and determination brimming from our growing team, we manage to also offer custom professional training programs onsite in Newark, New Jersey. We work with industry partners to train their workers in a hands-on environment in areas such as gowning, aseptic techniques, and unit operations that follow proper processes and procedures.
Because of these efforts, BioCentriq is working to fill the skill gap that looms large over the cell and gene therapy industry. We work directly with biopharma companies to conduct training programs that bring both current employees and new hires to skill readiness in manufacturing and clinical procedures.
If you’re interested in learning more about how BioCentriq can train your existing team and prepare new hires, click here.
Our Growing Team
Among everything else, 2022 has also brought along talented and passionate new team members who are committed to continue building BioCentriq into the CDMO powerhouse it’s rapidly becoming. I’m thrilled to introduce and welcome the following new team members:
- Rory Cullinane, MIE, Vice President, Quality & Regulatory Compliance
- Todd Wozniak, MBA, MSJ, M.Sc., Senior Director, Engineering
- Gina Choi, Human Resources Manager
You can meet all our team members here.
We also have very aggressive hiring plans for the 2H of 2022 and 2023. We are always looking for passionate and collaborative individuals with relevant industry experience. You can explore job opportunities at BioCentriq here.
Looking Toward the Future
2022 has already been packed with growth on every level, from GC acquiring BioCentriq, to our new partnerships and projects, team members, and the McKinsey Digital Capability Center. On behalf of the whole team, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to BioCentriq’s exponential growth.
It’s wonderful to know all the new ways in which BioCentriq can offer our expertise to help companies achieve their goals, produce new technologies, and ultimately, help patients who need these therapies most. Whether it’s by working directly on these technologies in collaboration with the companies who invented them, or by filling the gaping skill gap in the industry, we’re prepared and excited to continue doing this important work.
Please contact us anytime, we look forward to future collaborations.
Haro Hartounian, Ph.D.,
CEO and Founder, BioCentriq
Haro Hartounian is the Founder, President, and CEO of BioCentriq, a revenue generating Cell and Gene Therapy Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization. He engineered the launch of BioCentriq, the only facility of its kind in Newark, NJ and the first such center on a university campus anywhere in the United States. He also led the creation of NJIT’s new Professional Master’s Degree Program in Cell and Gene Therapy Sciences.
Dr. Hartounian provided strong leadership to drive an aggressive growth and profitability strategy for BioCentriq’s business and provided the necessary direction and dynamic leadership to R&D, manufacturing, business development, regulatory and compliance, and operations. He developed an approach that enables BioCentriq to forge client relationships that move beyond the traditional service outsourcing model into true end-to-end collaborations. Dr. Hartounian grew the organization by recruiting top-notch scientists, engineers, and professionals whose expertise aligned with goals of BioCentriq. He assembled a world class technical advisory board of external experts who provide insights into BioCentriq’s strategic initiatives.
Dr. Hartounian has nearly 30 years of experience in the biotechnology industry working for large and mid-size biopharmaceutical companies, including DuPont, Monsanto, SkyePharma and Vyteris. He has built several companies and has a proven track record of delivering unprecedented performance and growth He played an instrumental role in two FDA approved product launches — DepoCyt, and DepoMorphine — and served as the chief executive officer and board member of two public and two private biopharmaceutical companies. He also founded three biopharmaceutical companies — MicroIslet, Protagenic Therapeutics, and DiaVacs.
Haro’s past roles include securing funding, manufacturing, product and process development, business development and alliance management, strategic planning and partnering transactions. Specific product lines and indications have included cell therapy, diabetes, CNS disorders, oncology, women’s health, pain management and drug delivery. Dr. Hartounian is an adjunct associate professor of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University and earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware.