The future of biomanufacturing with Christian Eckermann, Boehringer Ingelheim

At BioProcess International European Summit, we sat down with Christian Eckermann, Head of Biopharma Austria and Member of the Biopharma Executive Committee at Boehringer Ingelheim, for an exclusive interview. We discussed next generation bioprocessing and facility implementation and the challenges that still need to be overcome to achieve it.

Watch the full interview above or here.

What are the biggest challenges that need to be overcome in bioprocessing?

CE: ‘One of the biggest challenges is…to be more effective in operation, but also in development; to have more effective high performance processes. Especially with the higher titres there will be a major press on downstream processing and there’s some innovation needed to improve the downstream part of it.

There are also some challenges with the new opportunities having new molecules, more designer molecules, moving away from the typical antibodies to biospecifics and other design formats. There is the development part to get to the market quickly, and the operations part with all the data there is a big opportunity and also a challenge to fully leverage that opportunity.’

Where do you see bioprocessing and facilities in 5 years? What are the biggest changes you expect to see?

CE: ‘For bioprocessing, I think especially with the new molecule formats, there will be some changes for facilities. We see that many companies are currently planning and constructing facilities and we see a trend towards disposables; having flexible facilities for when small amounts are needed, especially in clinical, and to have an easy transfer from one site to another. But there is also huge capacity demand out there so the stainless steel facilitates will be needed as well.’

 There is a lot of talk about a move towards automation and robotics as part of ‘Industry 4.0’. In what ways do you see this being transferred to bioprocessing and how big an impact do you think it will have over the coming years?

‘Already today there are facilities with electronic batch recording and a high degree of automation. We have machines in action, for example where a batch record is triggering a stirrer in a tank and the stirrer is giving information back. This action is ongoing and I think there is more to come in the future.’

 How will the CMO market (Contract Manufacturing Organization) for biotech develop in the future?

‘In general I think that there are strong pipelines from originator companies so there is market growth in the whole biopharmaceutical world and with this also the CMO business is growing.’

The future of bioprocessing will be shaped at BioProcess International Conference and Exhibition being held in Boston on September 25 – 28, 2017.

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