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Lucy Chard
10 Jan 2023

CPHI Frankfurt 2022: Innovator Interview - Lonza Small Molecules

In this series of interviews, we speak to companies on the CPHI Frankfurt show floor who are driving innovation in pharma for a better healthcare future. Here, we spoke to Henny Zijlstra, Senior Director, Commercial Development at Lonza Small Molecules about the aims of Lonza Small Molecules and how they are hoping to support small biotech companies to reach a wider market.

Please could you give a brief overview of yourself and your role at Lonza Small Molecules?

I’ve been at Lonza for almost five years. I previously worked in the generics industry, and while the products are related, working for a CDMO was a new challenge for me. To start with, I worked on lifecycle management, and then two years ago I made the move into marketing. I am now responsible for marketing in Lonza’s Small Molecules division. Many of the campaigns we work on have a strong digital pull, but events also play a large role in our demand-generation activities. 




As a part of Lonza, what are some key milestones for Lonza Small Molecules in the last few years?

The number of successful projects we have supported represents a significant highlight for us. In 2022 alone we supported more than 400 small molecules across our network. But, importantly, while Lonza is well known for its high-volume, late-phase campaigns for large pharma companies, we also place a real focus on early phase projects. Many of these come to us from small biotechs, which rarely have their own manufacturing capabilities. We also moved into the development and manufacture of drug products after the acquisition of Capsugel in 2016. As well as expanding our business into a new field, it enabled us to create a service that integrates the development and manufacture of drug substances and drug products, at all scales. It represents a whole identity shift for the company: working with both big and small pharma/biotech companies, and we now have the ability to offer end-to-end production.  

What have been the main challenges for Lonza Small Molecules in the last few years?

A big challenge was that we were unable to meet customers face-to-face during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a real cultural shift for us. Another challenge has involved shifting from supporting big pharma companies to supporting small biotechs as well. Small biotech customers have very different requirements which led us to look at our internal processes. How does a customer move through our organisation? We have run projects that are fully customer-centric. How do they come to us, and what is their view of us as a business? How can we get closer to the customer? This has been a particular challenge, as it is a new type of customer. We now believe we can support small biotech customers extremely effectively, with a full service package, and Lonza experts helping them through the project’s entire journey. We engage more with customers up front, with our experts and expertise highlighted from the outset.   
We are very known for our biologics offering, but we are less known for our small molecules, especially for our early-phase offerings so we have to keep emphasising that aspect. 

How can events such as CPHI help companies address these issues? 

Industry-leading in-person events such as CPHI are must-attend for us. You have to be there! Of course, comparing face-to-face versus digital events is challenging as they are so different. With digital, we have much more information about the people and companies we are interacting with at the outset. Yet there is still an enormous amount of value in attending CPHI in person. Our customers – and potential customers – like it, too, and they are able to simply walk up to the booth and talk to us. We use it mostly for connecting with existing customers – I would say 80% existing customers, 20% potential new ones. For account management, it’s key for connecting with customers. 

What do you most look forward to at CPHI?

For us, it’s really about connecting with our network. The event in Frankfurt was a great opportunity for us to meet our customers and engage with new prospects face-to-face, after such a long time when such in-person activities were impossible because of Covid. 

What can we look forward to from Lonza Small Molecules Industry trends? 

Lonza has been in business for 125 years. We’ve been making highly potent APIs for more than 30 years, and we’ve also been developing significant skills in areas as diverse as spray drying, green technologies and inhaled medications. We are doing our best to be acknowledged experts in these areas.
And, of course, we want to continue being innovative. We have seen our customer base expanding, and growing demands for speed and agility. We are ready for small biotechs and smaller molecules, and supporting them from the beginning to commercialisation, with an overarching focus on innovation. 
We have had a very strong team working for us for many years, and it’s definitely our expertise that makes us stand out. 

Any other comments?

We have been in existence for 125 years now, and are incredibly proud of our track record. Since 1897, the company has evolved as the market has changed, making sure we are able to meet new customer demands and make a meaningful difference to the world around us.  

Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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