Geoffrey Pot reappointed as President of the Belgian Federation of Life Sciences and Biotechnology
Cell, gene and tissue therapies were the focus of the annual event of the Belgian Federation of Life Sciences and Biotechnology bio.be/essenscia. Ground-breaking therapies that can cure challenging diseases and for which Belgium has unique expertise. To defend this pioneering role, our country must realign its regulatory framework to the market, facilitate collaboration between the ecosystem players in the three regions and bridge the gap between the academic and economic worlds. The Federation also announced the reappointment of Geoffrey Pot, from the biopharmaceutical company Takeda, as President of bio.be/essenscia.
In recent years, Belgium has developed exceptional know-how in gene, cell, and tissue therapy (so-called ‘ATMP’ Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products), across the entire development process: from R&D, clinical trials, biomanufacturing, to logistics. For example, TiGenix, founded in Belgium in 2000, was the first in Europe to place an ATMP product on the market. In the last 20 years, many spin-offs and start-ups have sprung up, specializing in this field: Bone therapies, Cellaïon, Celyad Oncology, eTherRNA, Novadip Biosciences, PDC*line Pharma, Regenesys, Revatis, etc. In parallel, specific biomanufacturing platforms (CDMO’s, Contract Development Manufacturing Organisations) such as Anicells, Catalent, Exothera, Kaneka Eurogentec and Thermo Fisher have been developed and set up in Belgium to meet the growing needs of local and international markets and be able to cure more patients.
This rich ecosystem is a real asset for our country and helps attract strategic investments. This week, UCB lays the foundation stone for its new gene therapy centre (€200 million investment) at its Braine l’Alleud site and, in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Legend Biotech is building its first European manufacturing site for CAR-T cell therapies in Zwijnaarde (Gent). These innovative therapies will be used to treat different types of cancer.
However, ATMP’s are also booming in Asia and the United States. The report by the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine which came out a few days ago, shows that these regions have made very rapid progress in just one year. To avoid Belgium and Europe getting left behind, our authorities must provide robust support for these biotechnologies.
“If we want to remain at the forefront here, the regulatory framework needs to be adapted to market needs”
Frédéric Druck, Managing Director of bio.be/essenscia
Frédéric Druck, Managing Director of bio.be/essenscia : « The Belgian and European regulatory framework is not agile enough. Advances in biotechnology are often faced with regulatory obstacles which slow down these promising innovations in personalised medicine. If we want to remain at the forefront here, the regulatory framework needs to be adapted to market needs. Talent is another major challenge for the sector. The know-how of biotechnology workers in Belgium is our biggest asset. The academic world must keep up with developments and adapt its curricula to match the reality of the economic world so that young people are properly trained in these new therapies. »
“Belgium must also maintain its support measures for innovation and manufacturing, including federal tax incentives, so we can continue to attract and establish research and development here, in a very competitive context”
Tineke Van hooland, Deputy Secretary General of bio.be/essenscia
Tineke Van hooland, Deputy Secretary General of bio.be/essenscia : « I like to think of Belgium as the ‘biotech valley’. Here, we have all the players needed to cover the entire ATMP value chain. It’s time for our country to encourage all these links to come together and collaborate even more, and across all three regions. Belgium must also maintain its support measures for innovation and manufacturing, including federal tax incentives, so we can continue to attract and establish research and development here, in a very competitive context. »
Geoffrey Pot reappointed as President of bio.be/essenscia for another three years
bio.be/essenscia also announced today that Geoffrey Pot, General Manager Operations at the Lessines site of Takeda, will remain President of the Federation for another three years.
“I would like to thank the Board of Directors for their confidence in me. Over the past three years, we have actively collaborated with the authorities in the framework of the federal R&D biopharma platform and the launch of the EU Biotech Campus, which is part of the recovery plan.”
Geoffrey Pot, President of bio.be/essenscia
Geoffrey Pot, President of bio.be/essenscia : « First I would like to thank the Board of Directors for their confidence in me. Over the past three years, we have actively collaborated with the authorities in the framework of the federal R&D biopharma platform and the launch of the EU Biotech Campus, which is part of the recovery plan. All this with a strong focus on digitalization and the biomanufacturing of the future. Let’s stay on this path and work together on three priorities: strengthen Belgium’s competitive positioning at European and global level, develop tomorrow’s talent, and support local and international investors in the creation of ‘factories of the future’.
bio.be/essenscia’s annual event on Monday 26 September in Brussels brought together around 200 people. Participants were inspired by Anne Kantardjieff, Vice President Manufacturing at bluebird bio (US), Hugues Malonne, Director General, DG « Pre-authorization » at the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) and they attended a debate with speakers from Catalent Pharma Solutions, Legend Biotech, N-side, pharma.be and Science Park Antwerp University.
This event was part of the 10th edition of European Biotech Week, which brings together around one hundred initiatives and events concerning biotechnology throughout Europe.