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The interview with Marek Polach - Executive Manager of CzechBio, about the association, its

The interview with Marek Polach - Executive Manager of CzechBio, about the association, its mission and biotech and pharma industry in Central Europe

Publish date: 2013-02-06

Czech Republic biotech and pharma industry is one of the most important in Central Europe. Nevertheless, for successful competition with the US and Western Europe companies our regional bio-business needs to establish a platform of cooperation, which will unite companies, represent industry needs in front of government institutions, and further accelerate, strengthen and support commercial development of it. In this interview with Marek Polach - Executive Manager of CzechBio, we talk about such successful association - its aims, future and Central Europe biotech industry. Marek Polach - Executive Manager of CzechBio

Tags: bioforum , czech republic , interview

Marek Polach - Executive Manager of CzechBio

What was the origin of CzechBio? What is CzechBio aiming at?

 

CzechBio has been founded in December 2008 with aim of creating national platform of Czech biotech companies, institutes and universities. The overall aim is to promote biotechnology sector in the country, to demonstrate to general public as well as to government officials the importance of the industry in building knowledge based economy. Furthermore, we have created CzechBio to encourage cooperation between industry and academia to create environment where the industry would flourish. We have received limited ERDF EU funds that are cofinanced by Czech government as well as our own financial sources. CzechBio is as well aiming at lobbying the government and officials namely when it comes to support biotech R&D as well as when it comes to amend certain legal acts that might have impact on the industry. 

 

Who do you associate? What is the profile of member companies? How do you help them and how do you benefit from them?

 

Out of 37 current members 32 are private companies, five are from academic area -public research institutes and an university. The typical profile of CzechBio member is thus biotech SME (Ed. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) with some 30 employees. On the other side we have couple of big members such as BIOVETA a.s., Lonza Biotech s.r.o., SOTIO a.s., BioVendor a.s., SEVAPHARMA a.s. that have some 100-300 employees. CzechBio member companies are active in different kinds of applied biotech sectors but most of them would be engaged in red biotech. The profile and product portfolio is thus very different from company to company. We are helping them by organizing educational courses on project management, ISO system implementation, business strategies and more. As well we are helping them to ensure government support for carefully chosen foreign expos where the CzechBio and its members would exhibit (BIO International Convention in US, China Bio Convention in Shanghai, BIO Europe, CPhI, Medica etc.). As association we are collecting membership fees, however we are non-profit industry service organization, founded by the industry and working for the industry.

CzechBio at the BIO Convention in China,

Shanghai 2012

 

Did the mission of CzechBio change over the time? What are the treats and obstacles for your company right now? What is your strategy/plans for future? Do you plan to expand and bring new companies or are you rather focused on promotion and recruitment of new potential clients?

Mission of CzechBio is largely the same from its foundation in 2008 till nowadays. Of course there were some limited changes in the course of the time but not really substantial ones. CzechBio is currently on its crossroad and I expect much of discussion within the association on future model of functioning, mission, aims etc. Of course we are continuously inviting selected biotech enterprises with proposal to join CzechBio. In 2012 we have hired three new members (SOTIO a.s., FAVEA s.r.o. and Institute of Microbiology) and will continue this process as well in 2013.  

 

How do you attract new clients or partners for cooperation? What are your target markets?

CzechBio has become well known trademark in the Czech Republic and in biotech sector and this help us significantly to attract new members. We are participating at number of events as stated in previous texts. The target is quite wide, always depending on participating companies which exhibit with us and their product portfolio. 

What is your opinion about BioForum? Did you benefit from participation in previous editions? Do you think that this event brings companies of Central Europe together?

BioForum undisputable advantage is that this is local CE event managed and organized by people who have real knowledge of the CE region, its obstacles, challenges, benefits etc. CzechBio has been involved in last four events, I assume that for our members the participation in Lodz in 2009, 2010, 2011 and Brno in 2012 had positive results. This events brings companies from CE region but I would expect bigger participation, the question is whether the market in CE is big enough to provide interesting business opportunities. 

 

CzechBio at BioForum 2009
in Lodz, Poland

 

How do you find CE biotech and pharma industry comparing to Western region companies? Is our industry competitive to them? What are the advantages of our bio-business and what can attract potential investors and clients?

 

Here in Czech Republic especially in 90s of last century, we have lost some traditional pharmaceutical and biotech companies that have not managed to adapt to new economic environment and to compete with new companies coming from WE and USA. However in last few years I can see that there is much going on in order to build the industry. Firstly, we can see EU funds to be invested in new scientific facilities aimed at pharmaceutical and biotech sector in Prague (BIOCEV), Olomouc (UMTM – BIOMEDREG) and Brno (CEITEC). More importantly, private investors are as well looking for new opportunities and investing their funds into this innovative sector. Together with massive know-how and well educated workforce I am confident that within next decade the Czech republic will become respected biotech destination.

Jacek Plewka

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