In 2010, Ali Ismail, noticing a gap in the market for a sample incubator facility, he established Birka BioStorage as the first Scandinavian cGMP compliant repository at the Ideon Science Park in Lund. “With Birka BioStorage, I wanted to create a collective solution which could serve as many companies as possible, offering storage conditions for different types of test materials. The future customers were both the R&D side, as well as from the clinical trials and patient materials.”
Birka BioStorage quickly grew out of the incubator and established its first facility during 2012. The company´s facilities were further expanded during 2018 and relocated to Odarslöv, in connection with the ESS area in Lund. Today, with facilities that are five times larger than at start-up, Birka BioStorage serves many global companies from its biorepository hub in Lund. All forms of ancillary services are offered based on the collection, the handling and the storage of customers' sample materials.
“Currently, we are the main logistic partner of 32 pre-clinical studies, 12 phase I-III studies, 5 biobanking projects and 6 commercial products, where Birka´s efforts make huge difference in our customer´s project progress”, says Ali Ismail, today the Commercial Director at Birka BioStorage.
Expanding with clean room services
In parallel with Birka BioStorage’s successful journey, Ali established a new business in 2015, Resanitec, focusing on the qualification and control of clean rooms facilities.
Resanitec controls and evaluates clean room environments that are necessary to maintain high levels of hygiene e.g. in the pharma industry. Resanitec also has a microbiological laboratory at the Ideon Science Park in Lund, for collecting and analysing customers’ materials. Powered with knowledge and understanding of different testing procedures, they help clients worldwide to identify sources of hygiene influence on clean room environments.
Resanitec has so far had a rather modest growth but are focussing on increasing this with more businesses being established in the Medicon Valley and more people requesting clean room services.
Launching new medical devices
Ali’s third venture is Canopus Medical, which was founded in 2017 and moved into its current premises at the Ideon Science Park in 2018.
Canopus Medical has two main tracks: in-house developed medical devices for dermatological use (dermal fillers) and a Hyaluronic Acid based visco-supplementation for joints affected by osteoarthritis. These products are based on patented cross-binding technology using natural Hyaluronic Acid, and co-developed with the Danish business partner Hyamedix ApS. Recently, Canopus Medical reached the clinical trial phase in both product segments and plan to launch during 2023.
Contract development and manufacturing
The second track in the company is a development and contract manufacturing line for well-known and exclusive Swedish brands in beauty and cosmetics, such as Xlash and Tanrevel, the market's most popular eyelash serum and tanning product respectively. In addition, Canopus Medical has developed its own product line for professional skin care with targeted results towards the removal of blemishes and smoother skin tone.
In May 2022, Canopus Medical announced it had completed a contract manufacturing agreement for the development and manufacturing of new XLASH product series.
Ali believes offering small-scale service platforms in the Medicon Valley has been eagerly awaited for many innovators and small businesses. Short cuts to development and manufacturing of new products showed to be needed more than ever during the vulnerable pandemic situation. According to Ali, the Medicon Valley needs to regain and rebuild the service and manufacturing infrastructure. Obviously, it seems there is no lack of new business ideas in his mind.