CDMO ten23 health launches in Switzerland with financing from 3i Group and a focus on injectables

Beautiful Basel, Switzerland, has become a biopharmaceutical hub and now can add another company to its growing list of firms as CDMO ten23 health plants its flag there. (Getty Images/Xantana)

Hanns-Christian Mahler has always had an entrepreneurial bent.

Playing in a band in Germany in the mid-1990s and wanting to find a wider audience for his music, Mahler and his mates came up with a simple solution.

“No one wanted to release our music, so we started our own record company,” Mahler said in an interview with Fierce Pharma. “We were having quite a decent distribution, but then our distribution went bankrupt.” 

It was a case of bad timing, Mahler explained.

“The short version is, MP3 killed the CD,” he said of the short run of Apricot Records.

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Two decades later, and after Mahler spent 20 years at Merck KGaA, Roche and Lonza, the entrepreneurial bug has bit him again. 

This time, Mahler is better prepared for success with his new venture, ten23 health. Financed by 3i Group of London and based in Basel, Switzerland, the CDMO unveiled its launch on Wednesday. The company will support biotech startups and established pharmaceutical customers in the development of injectables.  

“I’ve always been interested in starting something yourself, where you can really shape things and make a difference,” Mahler said. 

Mahler's higher purpose is evident in the company's launch announcement with promises of “holistic thinking that goes much further than pure execution and transactional mentality.”

The company also will aim for net zero emissions and will track employees’ personal footprint, recognizing those who reduce their carbon usage.  

“I’ve had a variety of epiphany moments where I’ve thought a lot about sustainability and planet focus,” Mahler said. 

It’s not a big geographic move for Mahler, whose most recent job was with Basel-based CDMO Lonza. Ten23 has taken up residence in a 4,000-square-meter site in the city, formerly owned by Elanco, which has labs and offices. Ten23 has hired 20 employees with plans for as many as 250, most of whom would work remotely.

The most common question Mahler fields these days is about the uncommon name of his company. It is derived from Avogadro’s number, which is a proportion that relates molar mass on an atomic scale to physical mass on a human scale. Avogadro’s number is defined as the number of elementary particles per mole of a substance and is equal to 6.022 x 10 to the 23rd power. 

While Mahler is excited about the prospects of his day job, he also clings to his weekend pursuit, playing in his indie band Brideshead, which has a small but passionate fan base in Europe and plays jangly, summery, 1980s pop. 

The group, which is close to 30 years old, is nearing completion of its fourth album. Brideshead’s last full-length work, “Never Grow Up” (2015), stands in contrast to Mahler’s most recent publication in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, “Identification of an Oxidizing Leachable from a Clinical Syringe Rubber Stopper.”