Pharma Focus Asia
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A Global Life Science Leader

Francis Van Parys, Vice President, Asia-Pacific, Cytiva

1. Can you help introduce Cytiva, your business presence and strategy in Asia-Pacific region?

Cytiva is a global life science leader with top tier brands. We are a standalone company under the Danaher Group, with a global manufacturing and distribution network of 24 sites across the world. More than 75 per cent of currently FDA-approved biotherapeutics use Cytiva technology and over 90 per cent of the top selling biologics are manufactured using Cytiva products. We proud to say that at least nine Nobel laureates use Cytiva products in their search for scientific knowledge.

We have a rapidly growing business presence within the region - with over 2000 associates across key hubs such as China, Korea, Japan, India, Singapore and Australia.

The pandemic has disrupted supply chains and our customers need us to be agile and adaptable. In response, we implemented our ‘in-region, for-region’ strategy which delivers our products with increased efficiency, shorter lead times and agile implementation through local manufacturing.

2. Cytiva recently announced a collaboration with Rockwell Automation in China. Can you share how Cytiva integrated automated technology into bioprocessing?

An all-in-one, adaptation, innovation, and collaboration are essential characteristics of all companies in the life sciences industry today. To leverage on leading industry expertise, we collaborated with Rockwell Automation back in 2019, creating synergies between smart manufacturing and life sciences. We expect this collaboration to enable stronger interconnection, capacitate data collection and analysis, and create a standardised manufacturing platform capable of core data management.

We are improving bioprocessing by integrating Cytiva automated software FigurateTM with FlexFactory single-use equipment. The integration will represent a comprehensive set of easy-to-use digital tools which supports a therapy from discovery to commercialisation. It will also increase bioprocessing efficiencies for manufacturers, enable scalability and streamlines technology transfer – all of which accelerates time to market.

3. You mentioned two Cytiva products, Figurate and FlexFactory. What’s the connection between them? Can you share more about them but in a simple way?

The FlexFactory platform is a single-use, end-to-end, cohesive solution designed by experts in biomanufacturing that addresses the increasing demand for an integrated and flexible manufacturing platform solution for biotherapeutics. It puts the manufacturer in the driver’s seat by taking its lead on specific needs.

The Figurate platform, on the other hand, provides for an automated control and management of Cytiva FlexFactory. It permits users to rapidly adjust capacity across facilities, sites and even geographies. Simply put, the most optimised automated platform for our FlexFactory

In combination, both represent the ideal solution for biomanufacturers who wish to initiate or expand manufacturing capacity quickly and cost-effectively.

4. You talked about automation oriented and data management. Is this the main theme of Cytiva’s “bioprocess/industry 4.0” strategy?

The current biopharmaceutical industry is different from 20 years ago. Industry innovations have led to new and innovative approaches to medicine, particularly niche drugs that target smaller patient populations. This means drugs are manufactured in much lower volumes.

As a result, manufacturers must improve their operational efficiency to reduce overall drug development and manufacturing costs so they can meet the public’s demand for access to new drugs at a reasonable price.

Digitalisation is a solution. Our adoption of the “Bioproces 4.0” strategy - a focus on data application, data analytics, artificial intelligence, predictive modelling and automation as a means to transform biologics manufacturing – allows us to create tools of bioprocessing/industry 4.0 which have reduced downtime and enhanced continuous process improvement. This improves bioprocessing efficiency, lowers costs and catalyzes speed to market through data and process optimisation.

5. With a leading position of bringing industry 4.0 to biomanufacturing industry, what’s your suggestion to succeed with digital transformation?

Digital transformation is challenging and its application differs according to its context. From our experience within the biopharmaceutical industry, we identified two key aspects that were crucial to our successes. They are: the implementation process and organisational change management.

In implementing new technologies, we need to be mindful that our tools leverage and interpret data from various systems. It is important for these systems to be interoperable and able to communicate with each other. The data generated between these systems drives the continuous improvement process. These data must be accesscible for meaningful and effective change to be achieved. It is the many small, incremental gains that cumulatively result in significant cost savings as they multiply – rather than add-up across the various manufacturing operations.

One way to ensure data is accesscible is to ensure a conducive culture within the organisation. As change tend to come top-down, fear and resistance (particularly due to job security) may surface. It is down to the company’s leadership to create a conducive environment to encourage and embrace this change. An open discussion allows all parties to benefit from the improved efficiency and productivity of the organisation.

6. Can you tell us more applications of your bioprocess/industry solutions?

Our market survey showed that about 66 per cent of industry practitioners said mechanistic modelling enables for speed to market. This led us to acquire German scientific software maker GoSilico earlier in June this year. Their simulation software creates ‘digital twins’ of downstream processing and enhances process development by simulation. In comparison with traditional methods, the software allows us to reduce development time from 13 weeks to just one week - with reduced use of experiment materials and higher confidence rating.

Building on the ‘digital twin’ concept, we are looking to further explore the potential of simulation and develop automated solutions that are not limited to bioprocessing. For example, in the area of cell therapies, we developed the Chronicle software, a fit-for-purpose solution designed to optimise complex cell therapy process development and manufacturing. The system also ensures appropriate data handling and storage, reducing risk of human errors in the field of data privacy. Another example would be the Cytiva XuriTM Cell Expansion System that taps on the UNICORN automation software, to deliver an automated, controlled expansion environment which improves cell expansion efficiency and reduces procedural risks and costs.

Author Bio

Francis Van Parys

Francis Van Parys is currently responsible for providing transformational technologies in biopharmaceutical research, manufacturing, and diagnostics to Cytiva customers and partners in the life sciences industry in China, India, Japan, Korea, ASEAN and Australia-New Zealand.  Francis joined Cytiva when it was known as GE Healthcare Life Sciences in 2009 as General Manager for Commercial Operations in EMEA and was later appointed Global Product General Manager, Research and Applied Markets, responsible for the consumables and hardware portfolio. He then became Global Commercial General Manager for Cell Culture in 2016.

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