Company Overview: Biovectra
BioVectra is a Canadian contract development and manufacturing organization with nearly 50 years of experience supporting global pharmaceutical and biotech companies in their quest to produce medicines that improve and extend patient lives.
As an innovative and reliable, science-based company with a strong regulatory track record, we have embarked on a five-year, $144.6 million (CAD) expansion project to enhance our capabilities in both Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Windsor, Nova Scotia. Over that period, we will be adding 150 highly skilled, full-time employees and are now seeking talented people interested in working at our exciting, growing company located in beautiful Atlantic Canada.
Part 1: Company Overview
BioVectra is a vibrant company guided by the principles of performance, transparency, empowerment and accountability. Operating out of four cGMP facilities in Atlantic Canada, we provide services to our client base, which includes most of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies in the world.
Our core competencies include both microbial fermentation and synthetic chemistry. With our scaled manufacturing setup, we are positioned to support projects throughout the entire life cycle of a product, from early development and clinical stages all the way to commercial manufacturing. Our active pharmaceutical ingredients have been used in therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis and many other serious diseases.
BioVectra’s Vision and Mission
As a developer and manufacturer of pharmaceutical products that improve health, BioVectra’s vision is to be a responsive, quality-oriented drug substance development and manufacturing partner for companies developing specialized therapeutics. We make ongoing selected and qualified investments to continue to serve our clients and grow alongside them.
We achieve these goals by serving as seamless extensions of our clients’ businesses and an integral partner in their growth. Quality and safety are our top priorities. Providing our employees with a positive work environment and opportunities for career advancement is fundamental to our success.
Fermentation and Much More
BioVectra has developed full-service capabilities for cGMP custom API manufacturing in both synthetic chemistry and microbial/fungal fermentation. A suite of ancillary analytical, process development, regulatory, packaging and labeling capabilities complements these services.
By offering both fermentation and chemical modification services, our clients can simplify their supply chains and streamline their development processes, reducing cost and time to market. For instance, BioVectra has helped clients reduce the number of synthetic steps for complex projects by as much as 75% using fermentation to produce complex intermediates or APIs. We have worked on over 100 chemical API projects, including complex multi-step syntheses, asymmetric chiral introductions, natural products, analogues and inorganics.
BioVectra also has the specialized facilities and equipment necessary to ensure containment of processes for the production of highly potent APIs (HP-APIs) with occupational exposure limit (OEL) levels of < 20 ng/m3. We have manufactured more than 10 HPAPIs in the last decade up to 5-kg batch sizes. Key aspects of our approach to these projects are comprehensive potent handling training for our scientists and manufacturing staff and extensive environmental monitoring.
In addition to microbial fermentation for the production of smaller molecules, BioVectra has established expertise in the manufacture of biologic substances, with scalable cGMP operations from 30 L to 17,000 L. These projects are implemented at our new dedicated state-of-the-art facility in Windsor, Nova Scotia, which is equipped for bioprocessing with a range of biosafety level one (BSL-1) expression systems. Other niche capabilities offered include controlled substances, PEGylation reagents and biomass extraction and purification.
BioVectra also offers a range of catalog products, including bioprocessing, diagnostic, molecular biology and MPEG reagents, for a unique combination of capabilities. We are a highly diversified CDMO positioned to serve as a single development and manufacturing partner for pharmaceutical companies producing novel therapies that require expertise in the processing of both small and large molecules. In addition, these services are available at R&D to commercial scales, allowing customers to avoid the time and cost associated with technology transfer from one service provider to the next.
BioVectra’s tailored and personalized approach to process development and scale-up helps our clients reduce the time it takes to move from one development phase to the next. Success is achieved through the joint effort of BioVectra and customer R&D, manufacturing, quality and procurement experts.
As a mid-sized company, we are also very nimble. We react quickly to changes in project or market needs. Clients of BioVectra also benefit from our high level of employee retention. The same people that work on an initial process development project apply their experience, expertise and process knowledge all the way to commercialization and beyond.
Investing in Client Success
We also make significant investments to ensure the success of client projects. In fact, BioVectra first became involved in fermentation at the request of a client over 15 years ago. Since then, we have repeatedly expanded capacity and capabilities to support the commercialization of client products. We are committed to engineering and designing plants specifically for clients that drive efficiency and value as they achieve commercial success.
BioVectra also invests in infrastructure upgrades and enhancement of core competencies on a continual basis. In fact, the recent addition of a further 30,000 L of fermentation capacity at our API manufacturing facility in Nova Scotia makes BioVectra the CDMO with the most extensive ranges of fermentation and downstream purification capabilities in North America.
Since 1970, BioVectra has been committed to exceptional service with a solutions-driven approach. Our culture is built on the shared corporate values of teamwork, respect, professionalism, quality and care. We are a dynamic team of dedicated professionals united by common goals, shared values and an entrepreneurial spirit. We work together and apply our diverse knowledge to solve our customers’ problems and challenges.
BioVectra maintains a quality-focused culture to ensure the highest priority is placed on the safety, effectiveness and reliability of our products.
Part 2: Meet Biovectra's People
Pape O. Sine, a Senegal native who has worked as a buyer for BioVectra since August of 2016, injects passion into everything, especially his work and education.
“It is well beyond what I expected,” Sine said of his time so far with the company. “I was looking for a company that would let me really dive into what I wanted to do in my career and enhance my skills. I really appreciate the company culture, where there is such a diverse workforce and teamwork is really promoted.”
Sine moved to Canada in 2008 to enroll in the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, where he graduated as the valedictorian of his Business Administration class. He then moved to Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) in search of more opportunity before joining the team at BioVectra.
“This company has people working here from all over the world and I really appreciated that, as I felt I was not the only one from away,” Sine said. “If you started naming all the countries, it would be unbelievable.”
In his role as a buyer, Sine purchases raw materials and consumables for the company from distributors all over the world. In spite of being so globally connected, he is happiest when he sets down the phone and has the time to bask in the Atlantic Canada lifestyle he has grown to love. Living in downtown Charlottetown, Sine often takes his bicycle to work, enjoying the Confederation trail system through the city.
Sine has also been able to further his own education since taking his position. In addition to his full-time job at BioVectra, Sine is enrolled at the University of Prince Edward Island (U.P.E.I.) in Charlottetown, where he attends classes every second Friday and Saturday in pursuit of a Master of Business Administration degree.
“BioVectra has been very supportive of me doing this to further my career,” Sine said. “It is a great work–life balance. When I wanted to do it, I asked my supervisor and told him for me I think it is the right time. I felt I was in a company that I was comfortable enough to do both, and BioVectra has proved me right. I still remember the day I got accepted; my coworkers and supervisor surprised me with a cake. There are a lot of opportunities to grow your career here.”
Sine, though easily transitioning into BioVectra’s company culture in such a short period of time, is a relative newcomer to the organization. Krista Affleck, on the other hand, has gone the distance with the company, having actually joined BioVectra’s forerunner, Diagnostic Chemicals Ltd., over 15 years ago.
A recent college graduate with a young child to provide for, Affleck was looking for employment that would allow her to build a life and family without leaving her home province. After completing her U.P.E.I. studies at the company, she decided it was an exact fit for her and transitioned to a full-time position. In the years since, Affleck has grown her family more than she imagined and even met her current husband, Ankur Deshpande, at the company — the two now have two children.
Krista has held seven different positions in the company since her first day, starting out in Quality Control and then moving on to the Analytical department, where she has been for 10 years. She currently serves as Director, Analytical Support and Development at the Hillstrom facility in Charlottetown, one of three in the provincial capital. It should be noted that BioVectra is also opening a new operation in Windsor, Nova Scotia.
“There is opportunity to move up once you demonstrate your ability to take on more responsibility,” Affleck said. “Now we’re growing so much and so fast that the people who started out here entry level and now have experience are often the ones who are moving up to manager. Out of the vice presidents, I think half of them moved up through the company, so there are great examples there. There are lots of people who have advanced that way.”
Kathleen Cullen is no stranger to the advancement opportunities afforded by BioVectra, which were a main factor in her decision to permanently settle in her native Charlottetown and join the company as a chemical engineer.
“I like that I am able to work on P.E.I.,” Cullen said. “My family is all here — so that is huge — and it’s great to get a job in my field at home. A lot of my classmates are working in Fort McMurray.” While growing herself, Cullen has watched BioVectra nearly double in size, from 150 employees to over 300 — in only three-and-a-half years. In spite of the large size, BioVectra has managed to retain the small company charm that originally attracted her.
“Any time we have social events or anything, it is really great. If I meet people from other departments, people are really welcoming and want to let you know what they do.”
Being a member of the BioVectra team has also altered Cullen’s outlook on both work and life. She is especially drawn to the fact that the company will let you train and learn different skill sets apart from the ones you had when you were originally hired. “Since I have started here, I have seen such growth in myself both professionally and personally. If you show initiative in anything or willingness to learn new skills, they are very supportive of that.”
To Cullen, a move to the BioVectra team is definitely a solid choice, where you can enjoy a global company without sacrificing the East Coast lifestyle.
“Come to BioVectra if you’re interested in a fast-paced environment that is always changing but is really innovative and cutting edge,” Cullen said. “I feel like this is a company that has strong growth in its future; we’re not just doing projects that have been hanging around for a couple of years.”
Part 3a: Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is the smallest of Canada’s 10 provinces. It is a red-colored sandstone island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, measuring just 224 kilometers (km) long by 6 km at its narrowest to 64 km at its widest. P.E.I. boasts 800 km of beaches. It is one of four Canadian provinces that borders the Atlantic Ocean and is arguably one of the country’s most beautiful places to live. P.E.I. is a convenient 200 km north of Halifax, Nova Scotia and 600 km east of Québec City.
The capital and largest city in P.E.I. is Charlottetown, boasting ~65,000 of the island’s 160,000 inhabitants. The coastal and pastoral beauty of P.E.I. is the initial attraction, but people choose to stay because of the small-town feeling, non-existent rush hours, short commutes to work, low crime rate and quality of education.
In recent years, the ever-growing bioscience sector has become a key pillar of the economic foundation of P.E.I. BioVectra is a key player, being the largest employer within the bioscience community, working within a collaborative bioscience business ecosystem.
Housing, Education and Healthcare on P.E.I.
The average price of a house on P.E.I. is around $200,000 (CAD), making it one of the most affordable places to live in the country.
The Prince Edward Island school system provides free education from Early Childhood Education programs through the end of high school. A comprehensive program of apprenticeships and training also exists to help people entering skilled trades after secondary school. P.E.I. is home to the University of Prince Edward Island, which includes Holland College, a publicly funded community college with 11 campuses throughout the province, and the world-renowned Atlantic Veterinary College.
Most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost. The Medical Care Plan of Prince Edward Island ensures that all medically necessary physician services and surgical–dental services are provided to all citizens and permanent residents.
In recent years, the ever-growing bioscience sector has become a key pillar
of the economic foundation of Prince Edward Island. BioVectra is a key player, being the largest employer within the bioscience community, working within a collaborative bioscience business ecosystem.
P.E.I. Culture and Quality of Life
P.E.I. is famous for its stunning beaches, pastoral landscapes and cozy towns. It has a vibrant, distinct and welcoming culture that served as the inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famous novel Anne of Green Gables. It also has an excellent reputation for safety and a friendly “know-your-neighbor” environment.
A wealth of outdoor activities are accessible across the island, including golf courses, scenic walking, skiing and biking trails, hunting/fishing areas and archeological digs. There are also historical villages, museums and art and music festivals to enjoy. Delightful farm-to-table cuisine and fresh seafood also contribute to a fulfilling and relaxing lifestyle!
Overall, P.E.I. provides a way to enjoy small-town life with all the conveniences of the modern world.
Part 3B: Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is also one of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces, but it has a population of nearly one million. The capital Halifax, with 400,000 people, is the largest city in the province and one of Canada’s major seaports. Nova Scotia is full of some of the most beautiful small towns and heritage sites and breathtaking national and provincial parks, as well as the Bay of Fundy — one of Canada’s seven natural wonders.
BioVectra’s biologics manufacturing facility is located in Windsor, which is 66 km northwest of Halifax. The town has approximately 3,500 residents and claims to be the birthplace of ice hockey. There are six post-secondary institutions within a 45-minute drive of Windsor.
Outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia has strong forestry, mining and specialized agricultural industries. The province is also experiencing growth in the oil and gas sector, with extensive exploration of offshore reserves. In addition, the beauty of Nova Scotia attracts nearly two million visitors each year.
Housing, Education and Healthcare in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia has affordable housing, with the average price of a house in the Halifax area just $281,000 (CAD) — about half the cost for a similarly sized home in Canada’s other major cities. Free bilingual schooling (English and French) is available from kindergarten through grade 12. Several universities, technical/professional colleges and apprenticeship programs are located in the province.
Nova Scotia Culture and Quality of Life
Nova Scotians are friendly and welcoming, with a culture generated by the fusion of many different groups that have settled in the province over time.
Whether you prefer sandy beaches and coastal cliffs or the culture and energy of city life, you’re never far from either in Nova Scotia — or more than 30 minutes from the ocean. There is always something to do, regardless of the season, with skiing and skating in the winter, hiking, golf and surfing in the summer and theater, music festivals and museums all year round. You can also enjoy the world-renowned seafood, which is a livable luxury for residents.
Part 4: Expansion Project Creates New Opportunities
In March 2019, BioVectra announced a five-year, $144.6 million (CAD) expansion project to further develop its biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing capabilities at both the Windsor, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island sites.
In Charlottetown, the project will expand the manufacturing capacity of the site’s current active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) operations using microbial fermentation. In Windsor, BioVectra will expand its capabilities for producing biologic drugs, including the construction of a new facility dedicated to mammalian cell culture.
“Our clients develop important, life-saving medicines for people around the globe,” noted Heather Delage, General Manager of the Windsor site. “This exciting expansion project is designed to help propel us toward being a top-tier player in the biologics field, where many therapies are advancing rapidly and changing the way healthcare is delivered.”
BioVectra expects to create 150 full-time jobs over five years, including 40 in Charlottetown and 110 in Windsor. These include highly skilled positions across technical and manufacturing operations, including R&D, process engineering, analytical chemistry and technology transfer.