Viral vector manufacturer Vibalogics adds CEO to lead expansion, COVID-19 response
In the bustling cell and gene therapy space, commercial manufacturing capacity will have a tough time keeping up with the potentially dozens of candidates hitting the market in the coming years, experts say. One German company plans to expand its U.S. footprint to help meet that demand, and it’s found the right leader to get it there.
Vibalogics has added Lonza Houston veteran Tom Hochuli as CEO as the German viral vector manufacturer eyes expansion plans stateside, including a new commercial production facility on the East Coast, managing director and former CEO Stefan Beyer said last week.
Hochuli, the former cell and gene therapy operations head at Lonza’s Houston area site, will come on board at a crucial time as Vibalogics navigates the early days of its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing pact with Johnson & Johnson and goes house hunting for its new plant. During his two-year stint at Lonza’s 300,000-square-foot facility, Hochuli oversaw a workforce expansion of around 400 employees and had a chance to get intimate with the cell and gene therapy space.
In making the move, Hochuli touted Vibalogics’ “great reputation” and big-name clients in the pharma space.
“(Cell and gene therapies) are products that change people’s lives, and there’s a huge imbalance in the market between supply and demand for these processes,” Hochuli said. “So I’m really excited to work with this company and take it to great places.”
Vibalogics was the target of a buyout by private equity firm Ampersand Capital in May 2019 that Beyer said allowed the CDMO to focus more on its life sciences offerings after years of wallowing in a diversified business that had tentacles in the poultry and meat industries.
“Ampersand jumped on board and has realized the great potential we have developed during the last four to five years,” Beyer said. “It was really great that we have been able to continue with our strategy by convincing (them) to look into biologics.”