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On A Mission to Transform Patient Lives with The Development of Mammalian & Microbial Production Cell Lines AGC Biologics

Founding Year: 2018

Office Locations: Seattle, WA, U.S.A. (Global HQ), Boulder, Co, U.S.A.; Longmont, CO, U.S.A.; Copenhagen, Denmark; Heidelberg, Germany; Milan, Italy; Chiba, Japan

Website: www.agcbio.com

AGC Biologics was founded in January 2018 in Bothell, Washington, as a convergence of Asahi Glass Company (AGC) Bioscience, Biomeva GmbH in Heidelberg, Germany and CMC Biologics to form a global contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) focused on offering microbial and mammalian capabilities. The focus was to fulfill early-phase through late-phase projects and into routine commercial production, both at small and large scale.

The firm has since acquired additional facilities in Boulder and Longmont, Colorado and incorporated MolMed S.p.A. – a Milan-based biotechnology company – expanding its offerings and creating a robust global network of manufacturing sites stretching across three continents.

An interview with Patricio Massera, CEO, AGC Biologics

What are your company offerings? How have consumer responses shaped them over the years? 

We provide our customers with world-class development and manufacture of mammalian and microbial-based therapeutic proteins, plasmid DNA (pDNA), viral vectors, and genetically engineered cells (cell therapy). Most recently, we have introduced messenger RNA (mRNA). 

We pride ourselves on our ability to partner closely with our customers and leverage that partnership to find solutions to every project, no matter how complex. Due to these partnerships, we have been able to strategically grow and expand our capabilities and capacities to support the growing needs of our current and future customers.

How is the company structured, and what would you say are the factors that have contributed to your success?

I like to think of our organization’s structure as three pillars: First is our global network, which enables us to both support our customers where they are geographically and deliver products faster by keeping many processes in-house by way of seamless internal transfers. 

Second, we maintain agility through fast yet thorough decision making. We keep this spirit alive throughout all our teams whenever possible. Third is our ingenuity, which I believe has been one of the keys to our tremendous growth. We don’t shy away from the tough challenges our customers face. We use our creativity and technical expertise to find a solution.

Every business, big or small, had its fair share of challenges – especially during the pandemic. Tell us about the challenges you encountered, and how did you manage to overcome them?

We quickly developed a business continuity plan (BCP) that enabled us to respond promptly to the pandemic, and later to the global supply chain issues. Following the BCP, we created two global taskforces to tackle the dynamic changes that were happening daily around the pandemic and the supply shortages that have continued to linger. Our team navigated the various changes and protocols over the past two years with tact and grace – even through the great reshuffling that the U.S. market has seen.

What ideals are your work culture and business ethics based?

Our four core values are innovation and operational excellence, diversity, environment, and integrity. We believe in always doing what’s right; whether that is for our customers, the patients they serve, the environment, our communities, and even ourselves. Our people live and breathe these values into their work every day – it’s truly inspiring.

Business leaders have always emphasized the habit of reading for success, on the record. Is there a book that you draw inspiration from?

There are several books that I can recommend. If I must pick one, I would recommend “The Five Dysfunctions of the Team” by Patrick Lencioni because everything must start with a strong team. However, nowadays, we are more focused on scaling the organization, and we are using the teachings from “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish to reinforce the foundations of our fast-growing company.

What do you think is a unique aspect of your business? 

The unique aspect of our business resides in our highly talented people that are excited to provide the best customer service possible. As a service provider, we are well aware that a service is only as good as the customer experience. Therefore, we want to have the best talent committed to delivering the best service – both aspects are key.

How do you plan on meeting the needs of the future customers in an industry that is expanding and advancing so quickly?

We try to anticipate future demands. We are making sizeable investments today in our technology, people, facilities, equipment, and of course training, as processes and tools evolve. We are also expanding our capacities at all our sites, as well as furthering our R&D Center – which is a multidisciplinary team exclusively dedicated to developing and testing new technologies.

AGC Biologics has grown tremendously over the past few years, how does it feel to acknowledge how far the company has come under your leadership/guidance?

It has been wonderful to observe the growth in new sites, capabilities, and teams. Only a few short years ago, we had 700 employees, and today we have more than 2,500 people with no signs of slowing down. We are very focused on the future because our purpose is to bring new products to the market that improve patient lives with unmet needs. Our growth is the direct result of our purpose. We are actively recruiting across all seven sites and remain diligent with our plans for future growth. More than ever, we are being deliberate about where, when, and how we hire in support of our key initiatives and projections. I am incredibly grateful for our team and celebrate their successes.

What’s next for AGC Biologics? Where do you see your company a few years from now?

We plan to continue this rapid upward trajectory. Our team is laser-focused on being the best CDMO in the market and the first call for companies needing our services. We will continue our growth in cell and gene therapy (C&GT) and leverage today’s investments in our sites and people to prepare for even more growth, new capabilities, and site expansions in the coming years. 

We must also continue to invest in developing our talent to deliver the best customer experience. Our team has aggressive goals for employee headcount and revenue and a list of key target customers that we want to partner with to develop and manufacture life-changing therapies for patients in need. I am very much looking forward to what is to come. 

The Thought Leadership

Patricio Massera

Patricio Massera joined the company in 2012 as General Manager of Copenhagen-based CMC Biologics A/S. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer of AGC Biologics in May 2019. As CEO, Patricio quickly developed a comprehensive people management strategy, recognizing that with healthy company culture and highly engaged employees, AGC Biologics is best positioned to provide the highest-quality services to our customers. With more than 20 years of industry experience in biochemistry and business, Patricio has acted as a change agent in several integration processes.

Our mission is to work side by side with our customers to improve patients’ lives by bringing new biopharmaceuticals to market.