After Bora's biologics debut, CEO outlines quest to join ranks of top CDMOs

The process of speeding new medicines across the finish line is a relay, not a marathon, with drugmakers often passing the baton to CDMOs for at least one leg of the race. But as contractors increasingly fixate on the final stretch—commercial manufacturing—their clinical customers are sometimes left behind.

Now, operating under the assumption that bigger isn’t always better, Taipei, Taiwan-based Bora Pharmaceuticals thinks it’s found a niche as it works to join the ranks of the world’s top 10 contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) over the next five years, Bora CEO Bobby Sheng said in a recent interview.

“Bora’s not about recreating the wheel,” Sheng told Fierce Pharma. “Bora’s about finding opportunities and providing something for the customer they don’t have yet.”

To that end, the company figures it can help the scores of customers struggling to win other CDMOs’ attention for earlier and smaller-scale projects, the CEO explained. This would largely involve clinical development and early-stage manufacturing ventures to start.

"Everybody's going large-scale," Sheng said of the current contract manufacturing scene. "So, we're seeing a need for small-scale," he explained.

Bora will put that business model to the test, for one, at the biologics plant it recently picked up from Eden Biologics at the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park in Taiwan. The company’s first biologics foray centers on monoclonal antibodies, Sheng said, but, “especially in biologics, we’re really just dipping our feet into the water.”

Looking ahead, Bora could extend the business into North America, Sheng said, either through a construction project or an acquisition.

And while Bora Biologics is starting out at the clinical scale in Taiwain, it isn’t counting out bigger projects in the future.

“Right now, there’s a rather large supply of large-scale commercial manufacturing,” Sheng said of the saturated production field. Even still, when the time comes, Bora will be “opportunistic in establishing our own commercial, large-scale manufacturing in biologics.”

Bora’s Taiwan plant stands at around 4,500 square meters and boasts more than 100 employees. The site houses two 500-liter bioreactors, with another two on the way, Sheng said. The plant is equipped for cell line development and in-house analytical work all the way through to production, the CEO explained.

Bora’s contract development and manufacturing ambitions will pit it against a host of outsourcing juggernauts, many of whom rose to even greater prominence during the vaccine production boom of the early COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Bora remains optimistic about the continued upswing in the contract manufacturing market, “especially after COVID-19,” Sheng said. And despite the larger biotech bear market afflicting the industry at large, resilient companies are still “actively looking for outsourcing,” he said. 

Including its new biologics site, Bora operates out of seven facilities, with plans to work its way up to about 15, Sheng said. Beyond biologics, Bora already has its sights set on the next contract manufacturing frontier in sterile injectables. Bora’s also looking to further wade into other technologies such as spray-drying, Sheng said.