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Lucy Chard
16 Jan 2023

CPHI Pharma Award Winners 2022: Manufacturing, Tech, and Equipment – Just-Evotec Biologics

Ciriaco Maraschiello, EVP Global Head of Drug Development at Evotec, receiving the award on behalf of the Just-Evotec Biologics team at CPHI Frankfurt

In this series of interviews, we speak to the teams behind the winning concepts at CPHI Pharma Awards 2022, in each of the different categories, from digital innovation to CEO of the year. 

The winner of the category for Manufacturing, Tech, and Equipment this year was Just-Evotec Biologics, with their biologics manufacturing facility, J.POD. In this interview we spoke to Randal Bass, EVP Process Design & Biotherapeutic Operations at Just-Evotec Biologics, who gave some insights into the work. 

Firstly, can you tell us a little more about Just-Evotec Biologics and your key priorities for the year ahead?

We are excited about the year ahead, where our company will continue to grow. We’re expanding our development and manufacturing capabilities in Seattle and Redmond (our first J.POD facility) and will be busy building our second J.POD facility in Toulouse. We will continue to invest in technology development to further refine our single use/ disposable, continuous manufacturing platform for even greater productivity for biologics.

This year, you won the CPHI Pharma Awards for Manufacturing, Tech, and Equipment, can you tell us more about the winning service?

We have an integrated technology platform we refer to as J.DESIGN, that incorporates antibody discovery, molecular design, process design and ultimately manufacturing in a highly intensified, small ”POD-technology based” facility called J.POD. To do this, we have had to innovate across the continuum of biologics development, with improved molecules (from AI/ML driven antibody discovery and molecular design), highly intensified processes based on proprietary CHO cells, DNA vector systems, custom media, and process formats. Put together and operationalised in a comparatively small manufacturing footprint we call J.POD. Although diminutive in size, our manufacturing plant and process platform can produce metric tonnes of high-quality protein therapeutics. 

Pharma 4.0 is a hot topic at the minute, with many companies working to integrate new digital systems, how will plants such as J.POD® enable the incorporation of pharma 4.0 into the manufacturing system? 

We have deployed and continue to expand our digital tools in a manner congruent with pharma 4.0. Although we are agnostic to the source of these digital systems, externally sourced or internally developed, we are definitely finding places where internal development will be required. At Just-Evotec Biologics we’re fortunate to have data scientists, software engineers and an automation team that work together to create a digital infrastructure that allows us to operate what we refer to as either continuous hybrid or fully continuous biomanufacturing.

What do you think is needed from the pharma industry as a whole to improve sustainability in manufacturing, tech, and equipment?

I think the technology and the equipment in a large measure can drive our sustainability. Portions of our industry have been moving to smaller more intensified bioprocesses that have been developed in conjunction to single-use manufacturing processes. These processes at the surface seem wasteful, but on closer analysis, are far more sustainable than large fixed stainless traditional manufacturing (e.g. Whitford et al, Single-Use Technology in Biopharmaceutical Manufacture, Second Edition, 2019). Certainly, the industry as a whole and our suppliers need to continue to make progress and reduce our overall carbon footprint.

How will this service benefit the pharma industry over the coming years?

We recognise that different platforms deliver different benefits across the biopharma industry. We feel our solution can enable many companies both large and small with ours. Regardless, if it is a particular product’s mass demand, or the need to construct flexible facilities in a very fast timeframe, we feel that different partners across our industry will benefit from working with us and utilising the platform and manufacturing plants.

What does winning the award mean to you and what will it do for you as a company?

First, we’re very grateful to CPHI Frankfurt for recognising us, thank you. Secondly, we are excited to have our technology platform, and the J.POD facility recognised to raise awareness, not just for Just-Evotec Biologics, but for the evolution of the biomanufacturing and our industry. We WANT the industry to adopt some of the approaches we are taking to expand vendors and suppliers, as well as get these advance bioprocesses familiar to our regulators.

You’ve set the bar high with this, can we expect to keep seeing more innovative work from you in the future?

Yes! One of the best things about our company and our industry is that we have stepped on a technology development treadmill that we can never get off. We have built our facility to be incredibly flexible. The platform and process equipment, along with the automation that runs it are designed to be quickly changed at the individual unit operation level, as well as the connections between unit operations. In a word, we are pre-built to be highly dynamic and ready for change and are excited to continually develop and implement new technologies in the biopharmaceutical industry.

To see what the other teams have to say about their award winning work, see here. 

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Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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