Fre 3 dec / År 39 / Nr 4 2021

Placing biological samples in safe hands

The biorepository and biobank Birka BioStorage AB, based in Lund in Sweden, is expanding its business, creating logistic capacities for global biotech and clinical projects.

GMP-certified storage and logistic management are important for pharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development, but not all companies can manage their own secure and certified storage on-site. This is particularly a challenge for cash-strapped startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Ali Ismail, director of commercial operations, founded Birka BioStorage back in 2010. He had previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry, managing logistics, and was aware that companies can struggle to find reliable space to store samples that is up to the standard required by the authorities.
“I wanted to create a company that could store materials for a range of different biotech and pharma R&D teams, from university research groups to multinational companies, with an aim to be make the big impact on a project´s progress acceleration, which means faster to target and better economy ” said Ismail. “We have built a unique single platform that can serve all these different groups, with GMP-certified storage as the minimum standard. This is what makes us become the logistic department of our Clients business.

Growing and expanding
Birka BioStorage enrolled its first customer in 2012, and by 2013 was up to ten customers. By 2016, it had grown from a Nordic to a global customer base, and the numbers and sizes of projects had expanded.
“We have seen many returning customers, as they have seen we are more consistent and economical than relying on in-house resources,” said Ali Ismail.
As pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are moving increasingly towards the outsourcing of R&D and production, Birka is able to manage the supply chain, increasing the security of the process.
“Storage has been our main business, but we are integrating new services, based on requests from our clients, such as clinical kits, transport management and non-standard storage conditions. The new site will host a dedicated space for experimental climate studies, ready to assist our clients in finding the optimal storage climate for their material and for transport validation.”
The new purpose-built site, with an initial area of around 1400 m2, will be part of the Science Village area in Lund, alongside the European Spallation Source (ESS) Compound. It will host storage chambers of up to 30 cubic meters. The site will be ready for operation during quarter 1 2019. The expansion project is financially supported by the company´s current private investor Mrs. Ebba Fischer and the new partner, Mr. Axel Gyllenkrok, representing Björnstorps Gods.

Plans for the future
Ali Ismail’s ambition for Birka BioStorage is for the company to become a global player in research & production logistics, with future regional setups, that makes a real difference for the healthcare system and the patients.
“We believe that patients and environmental resources are the biggest winners from our efforts. Sharing our resources with our clients saves time and lives” Said Ali Ismail.