Companies in the pharma and biopharma industries frequently face costly process-related difficulties during development, commercialisation, and manufacturing.
These challenges range from batch failures, batch-to-batch variability, process yields and product purity, which present significant time, cost and risk barriers to the effective supply of their medicines to clinical trials or the end market.
Irish company APC Ltd has developed, designed and marketed proprietary engineering platform technologies that provide answers to these problems and has already worked on 120 different projects with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
The UCD spinout company was founded in 2011 by Dr Mark Barrett and Prof Brian Glennon, both of the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.
Since then, APC has developed two engineering platform technologies, ACHIEVE and BioACHIEVE, for troubleshooting research and manufacturing issues and improving the design of chemical and biopharmaceutical compounds.
According to APC research systems manager Sharon Davin, these technologies reduce the time, costs and risk for the development and supply of new and existing chemical and molecular entities to the market place. The APC team could be described as “process doctors”.
A client comes to them with a process problem and the team analyses the entire process from start to finish to identify any problems and then designs an optimal process which overcomes the difficulties and delivers the desired results.
The market for APC’s solutions is partly driven by the necessity for pharmaceutical companies to develop and supply their medicines in a cheaper, quicker way while also developing a more sophisticated understanding of their process. This focus by pharmaceutical companies on reducing the time to market for new medicines while cutting costs and maximising process understanding makes APC’s technology very attractive.
Previous innovation in this field tended to concentrate in new chemistry-related solutions.
APC’s technology concentrates on process engineering, allowing it to be applied to every chemical biological compound that requires a process to supply that material.
APC has already worked with more than 50 companies on 120 different projects over the past two years and is continuing to attract both repeat business and new customers.
Clients vary from niche single-product companies to large multinational companies spread across Ireland, the UK, mainland Europe, USA, Asia and Australasia.
And growth has been impressive with revenues increasing from €100,000 in year one to €3 million in 2013 and forecast to grow to €18 million by 2018 – 75 per cent from exports.
Employment now stands at 33 with another 15 people expected to join the company over the next two years.
Very interestingly, the company will invest about €1.2 million this year in internal R&D activities without any outside investment.
“We have got to where we are without any external investment,” says Davin.
“We are fortunate in that we are creating our own market as no one else does what we do. We opened a US office last year to support our growth in that market. For the future we will continue to innovate and invest in our platform technologies.”