April's great reason to do business in the North East highlights how we're open for opportunities and investment. Michael Lyons, Global CFO for FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies discusses the investment in the region, and how they're at the forefront of opportunity.
“Ahh Fujifilm, you’re the guys that make the cameras, right?”
Until a few years ago, staff based at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies at Billingham faced this regular response when asked whom they worked for. This then followed a rather long discussion, that actually they did something very different but equally as interesting.
As Global Chief Financial Officer and fellow Teessider, I recognise that the North East is a special place to live and work and the things we do at times may not be obvious to the wider population.
We have a long and proud heritage, built on industrial revolutions from coal to shipbuilding and chemical to steel. We have revelled in innovating and thrived on manufacture. Today, I still see that as true but our direction of travel is slightly different. We may not have the behemoth corporations to rely on, but here in the North East, we have something else, something equally as special.
The recent advancement in technology start-ups, investments in energy, the explosion of service sectors including digital technology and companies such as FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, providing technical leadership and world class manufacturing facilities, continue to make the Northeast a fantastic place to invest, to grow and to thrive.
The ongoing success of the North East continues, despite however the challenges that we feel are often thrown at us.
Only last year, James Ramsbotham wrote of the need to narrow the gap between the North and the South, to ensure the Northeast is not left in the slow lane. Whether the past 12 months and the recent budget has helped level that will continue to be debated but the announcement of things including the Freeport at Teesside, the relocation of Treasury North, the launch of the levelling up fund, all in the recent budget announcement, go some way to supporting the ongoing positive change.
Here at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies we take great pride in our support of the North East region. A large number of local staff directly employed and the wider indirect impact on the local supply chain, our support of local charities, working with schools and Universities, and the continued investment in the site to ensure we remain world class and industry leading.
In recent years we have invested ca. £100m as we continue to grow our footprint. Passing visitors cannot fail to be aware of our new state of the art Bio Campus due for completion in the next few months, a testament to moving forward, standing resolute in the heart of Billingham, alongside more subtle improvements to enhance our research and manufacturing capabilities both at the main site and our ancillary location in Wilton at Redcar. Our core values of trust, delighting our customers, gemba (go see) and genki (being enthusiastic) run deep in all that we do. As a contract development and manufacturing we thrive on supporting our partners in the biopharmaceutical industry with the development and production of their biologics, viral vectors, and vaccines products.
Our staff work with many different partners on many different life-impacting therapies and it’s this realisation that we are working to make a difference to people’s lives that gives us the same passion and appreciation that we often see when talking to other companies throughout the North East and something we are seeing more and more.
Things like these assure me that the North East is going places! We are attracting global industries, investing in new technologies and there is a definite buzz around, despite the very challenging and difficult times we have all faced over the past year during the covid pandemic.
At FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, we will be playing a key role in moving forward from this terrible situation. We will be manufacturing millions of doses of a covid vaccine, much for distribution in the UK, made right here in Teesside in the Northeast.
That in itself is amazing.
Whilst we remain grounded and recognise that the relationship we have with our client to produce this vaccine is similar to what we have with others, it is difficult to hide the fact that the work we are doing is a little bit special.
Normally, the medicines we make are life- changing and life improving for patients, but they impact a much smaller population. In the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine, the situation is different in that it can potentially change millions of lives.
In February, following the COVID-19 announcement, we received a visit from the Prime Minister who toured the laboratories and manufacturing facilities and met some of the workforce who are playing a crucial role in vaccine production.
It does feel like the North East is on the up, the industries we serve are changing and growing and there is a feeling that the North East is going places.
It also feels great to hear ““Ahh Fujifilm, you’re the guys that make the COVID-19vaccine!”.
Yes, that’s us, dedicated Partners for life, advancing tomorrows medicines.