Business leaders heard the tremendous success story of Billingham-based FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, which is manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine, at North East England Chamber’s Tees Valley annual review.
The meeting started with the election of Patrick Masheder of Real Results being elected chair of the Chamber’s Tees Valley committee followed by a brief review of the past 12 months by Chamber assistant director of policy, Rachel Anderson.
Guest speaker, Paul Found, chief operating officer, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies gave an insightful speech on the business which is based a few metres from the HQ of ICI’s agricultural division.
He explained that FUJIFILM was founded on the production of photographic film before moving into the health sector with x ray film production. It identified the trend away from physical camera film to digital products so diversified into pharma production including the acquisition of the site in Billingham in 2011.The decision has reaped huge rewards with staff numbers rising from 80 in 2000 to 850 today.
He said: “There were many beneficial similarities in FUJIFILM’s complex chemical production processes and those required from pharmaceuticals so the move into healthcare a logical evolution for the company. FUJIFILM Diosynth specialise in manufacturing life-changing products which is a great growth sector with very high value end results. Some of the items we create are worth hundreds or thousands of pounds per gram.”
The business exports 90% of its products to the US and EU with ambitious expansion plans underway. There is substantial investment in the Billingham facilities at present to increase production capacity in various modalities to support the delivery of life-impacting therapeutic agents and vaccines.
Paul Found said: “Our overall business premise is that we are advancing tomorrow’s medicines. We can see in the future our whole approach to medicine as a nation will change and move towards curing disease rather than treatment. Our business is being prepared to help develop these transformative innovations.”