With a range of research collaboration projects ongoing at its lab in Lund, all running in parallel with continuing work on developing LaminarPace for GMP industrial production, Ziccum’s new Development Director Anna Lönn faces a demanding schedule. With previous senior posts at Tetra Pak, Galencia and Bioinvent she discusses the new phase in Ziccum’s development, and why she chose to leave a global manufacturing giant to join a small startup with a big idea.
“Ziccum made great steps forward last year and is now moving into a pivotal new phase requiring new structures,” says Anna Lönn. “Every day now we’re gathering more and more knowledge about the machine, the process and products. This knowledge will be crucial in demonstrating to a bigger partner like a large-scale vaccine manufacturer ‘this is what we can do, this is where we are, now let’s take the next step together’, so we need to systematically harness and structure that knowledge across every process we work on.”
In a busy and critical research period Ziccum currently has a range of research collaborations running in parallel at its lab – from big pharma projects testing dry vaccine formulations to public research bodies testing subunit vaccines and adjuvants. In parallel with these projects Ziccum continues to develop its LaminarPace (LAPA) ambient air-drying system, measuring and setting parameters and heading towards meeting the regulatory quality requirements ultimately needed for GMP approval for industrial manufacture and installation in its own small-scale Fill and Finish plant.
“It’s hectic” says Lönn, “we’re a small, highly skilled, team working on multiple projects, but they’re all totally hand-in-hand and they all feed in and build new knowledge back into the LAPA development in every project, strengthening our case, delivering new data and reducing risk from a partner perspective – making us not just a ‘nice-to-have’ partner but a ‘need-to-have’ one.”
From global giant to startup
Anna Lönn has extensive experience from product and pharmaceutical development and manufacturing. Her most recent role was as a Project Manager at Tetra Pak Processing Systems. “At Tetra Pak I worked in research and technology, developing novel processing machines and techniques, including projects with small innovative startups. At Tetra Pak I was also the driver for a new innovation and focus area, working in an agile framework to secure progress within this unknown area. In 16 years at Bioinvent I worked with process development, scale up and cGMP manufacturing of antibodies for clinical trial studies. As CMC Project Manager at Galencia I managed in-house and customer development and cGMP manufacturing projects. So, my skillset related really well to Ziccum.”
Leaving a global giant like Tetra Pak for a small startup like Ziccum is still a bold step though. What inspired her? “The concept of dry vaccines is really inspiring to me. From a science, sustainability and global healthcare perspective it will be a huge game changer. I’ve always been engaged with sciences that drive sustainability, for example my technical licentiate thesis was on biofuel.
“I believe that I will bring in the experience and knowledge related to processes and product development from both large and mid-size companies to Ziccum, who is now taking the next step – moving from a more explorative development phase to a more structured process development stage. My driving force is that I really want to be a part of this groundbreaking technology with the aim of contributing to a better world. I want to know that I’m having a real impact on the company I’m with, at Ziccum the strategic big-picture processes I work with are absolutely crucial in its current phase of development, so I’m very excited to contribute to such an exciting company and technology.”