FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

Public Sector Manager - - Advertorial - CON­TACT DE­TAILS: Postal Ad­dress: Pri­vate Bag X3 Pinelands, Cape Town, 7430 Phone: (+27) 21 514 5000 Web: www.bio­vac.co.za 1200692018 EXP 12/2020

The Bio­vac In­sti­tute was founded in 2003 through a part­ner­ship with the South African gov­ern­ment as the Bi­o­log­i­cals and Vac­cines In­sti­tute of South­ern Africa. The CEO of Bio­vac, Dr Morena Makhoana, has been on­board since al­most the be­gin­ning as he joined the com­pany in 2004. He is also a mem­ber of the Bio­vac board and the ex­ec­u­tive team. Dr Makhoana spoke with PSM about the com­pany’s role in the re­gion and its val­ues.

PSM: WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR MA­JOR MILE­STONES AT BIO­VAC?

DR MORENA MAKHOANA (MM):

The ma­jor achieve­ment for Bio­vac has been the abil­ity to start a vac­cine com­pany from scratch in an en­vi­ron­ment where there was vir­tu­ally no biotech­nol­ogy sec­tor. We are proud to at­tract top sci­en­tific tal­ent from all over South Africa, thereby cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment and con­tribut­ing to the bioe­con­omy. We em­ploy just over 300 staff mem­bers, 60 per­cent of whom have a ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Our demon­strated ca­pa­bil­ity and the cal­i­bre of both our peo­ple and man­u­fac­tur­ing in­fra­struc­ture have en­abled Bio­vac to at­tract rep­utable for­eign in­vest­ment from multi­na­tional vac­cine com­pa­nies and donors. Such in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion is a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment, par­tic­u­larly for a com­pany like ours, lo­cated on a con­ti­nent where our ca­pa­bil­i­ties are of­ten viewed as lag­ging be­hind the global biotech­nol­ogy in­dus­try. PSM: PLEASE SHARE OUR THOUGHTS ON THE VALUE OF UBUNTU AND PART­NER­ING WITH OTHER OR­GAN­I­SA­TIONS IN THE PUR­SUIT OF SUC­CESS.

MM:

Bio­vac could not have made the achieve­ments and pro­gressed to where it is to­day without our key stake­hold­ers: our val­ued and tal­ented em­ploy­ees, the com­mu­ni­ties in which we op­er­ate, our sup­pli­ers, our tech­nol­ogy trans­fer part­ners, na­tional gov­ern­ment and our fun­ders. Bio­vac’s abil­ity to forge part­ner­ships across the value chain and, through this, to pro­tect life within our com­mu­ni­ties through­out Africa, as well as in the de­vel­op­ing world, re­flects the true sense of Ubuntu. We re­alise that we are more than a busi­ness – we are an en­abler for hu­man be­ings to live healthy lives. We just can­not ex­ist nor be suc­cess­ful and sus­tain­able without oth­ers who give us a pur­pose and the means to do what we do ev­ery day. PSM: HOW DOES BIO­VAC SUB­SCRIBE TO THE CUR­RENT GOOD MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING PRAC­TICE (CGMP)?

MM:

The cGMP is the back­bone of our in­dus­try. It is a crit­i­cal qual­ity bench­mark that we nat­u­rally com­ply with to en­sure safety to vac­cine end-users through good qual­ity vac­cine pro­duc­tion and sup­ply. The ‘c’ in the cGMP stands for ‘cur­rent’ to en­sure that we re­main abreast of lat­est qual­ity as­sur­ance stan­dards, guide­lines and trends. In 2018 Bio­vac re­ceived ap­proval from the South

African Health Prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (SAHPRA) to man­u­fac­ture vac­cines in vials. This was in ad­di­tion to our ex­ist­ing ap­proved op­er­a­tions of sec­ondary pack­ag­ing

and dis­tri­bu­tion of vac­cines. As part of the Bio­vac qual­ity cul­ture we also un­dergo on­go­ing in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal au­dits to main­tain and en­sure that our man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and rep­u­ta­tion re­main top notch. PSM: PLEASE SPEAK ABOUT “RE­GION­ALLY REL­E­VANT VAC­CINES” AND THE IM­PACT THEY ARE HAV­ING BE­YOND OUR BOR­DERS.

MM:

Since pop­u­la­tions and diseases dif­fer re­gion­ally, it is im­por­tant that Bio­vac fo­cuses on vac­cines that are rel­e­vant for the African con­ti­nent, as this is the re­gion within which we op­er­ate and serve. Africa is vul­ner­a­ble to out­breaks, as ev­i­denced by the flu pan­demic of 2009 and the re­cent Ebola out­break. Without African vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity, our re­gion will strug­gle to re­spond to its own vac­cine-pre­ventable diseases and it will re­main vul­ner­a­ble. In ad­di­tion to man­u­fac­tur­ing, the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment of vac­cines is crit­i­cal if we are to tackle diseases such as HIV, malaria and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. Prod­uct de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues to hap­pen in ei­ther more re­sourced coun­tries (for ex­am­ple, Western coun­tries) or in coun­tries with his­tor­i­cally large man­u­fac­tur­ing bases

(for ex­am­ple, Asia). Africa con­sumes a large part of the world’s vol­ume of vac­cines, but it con­trib­utes rel­a­tively lit­tle vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion. PSM: HOW DO YOU EN­SURE THE IN­STI­TUTE CON­TIN­UES TO BE A CEN­TRE OF EX­CEL­LENCE?

MM:

We con­tin­u­ously rein­vest in our in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, our peo­ple and our as­sets. Bio­vac has de­vel­oped its in-house tech­ni­cal knowhow and ex­per­tise in some niche ar­eas within vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and has even out-li­cenced some of the tech­nolo­gies to ma­jor part­ners in the USA and in Asia. We in­vest in our staff through con­tin­u­ous train­ing and de­vel­op­ment ei­ther in South Africa or over­seas. It is equally crit­i­cal that we use the lat­est cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy that is avail­able glob­ally. PSM: HOW HAVE THE DE­VEL­OP­MENTS IN TECH­NOL­OGY IM­PACTED BIO­VAC’S WORK?

MM:

Any de­vel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy must be em­braced by com­pa­nies in or­der to con­tin­u­ously be rel­e­vant and be kept up to date. The up­front chal­lenge is the cost of ac­quir­ing those newer tech­nolo­gies; how­ever, the pay­back comes with time as they can make our man­u­fac­tur­ing and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment pro­cesses run much smoother and with fewer costs in the long run.

PSM: HOW DO YOU CEL­E­BRATE SUC­CESS?

MM:

Be­cause vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing have a long, mul­ti­year turn­around time from start to fin­ish, we have recog­nised over the years that the recog­ni­tion and cel­e­bra­tion of smaller, more fre­quent mile­stone suc­cesses drives our team to stay on track, keep mo­men­tum and push on­ward and up­ward. Such recog­ni­tion is given in the form of ad­hoc “on the spot” in­cen­tives as and when great­ness is iden­ti­fied, as well as monthly, quar­terly and an­nual ‘bioSTAR’ in­di­vid­ual and team awards. Over and above cash in­cen­tives, we also of­fer our em­ploy­ees long-last­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, such as a mem­o­rable week­end away, a trip to the movies and pub­lic ac­knowl­edge­ment in front of peers. Longer-term mile­stones are recog­nised through per­for­mance-based bonuses and profit-shar­ing, where pos­si­ble and depend­ing on over­all com­pany and fi­nan­cial per­for­mance. At Bio­vac, we recog­nise both be­hav­iour, in terms of how our em­ploy­ees dis­play the Bio­vac way, and per­for­mance, in terms of which key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors were suc­cess­fully achieved on time, with qual­ity and in bud­get. We re­gard col­lab­o­ra­tive be­hav­iour and ef­fec­tive work per­for­mance as equally im­por­tant in achiev­ing in­di­vid­ual, team and com­pany suc­cess. It is a con­tin­u­ous process that never ends.

CEO of Bio­vac, Dr Morena Makhoana.

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