At Interphex 2014, Todd and Todd interview Maurice Phelan, Bioprocess Services Leader with GE Healthcare to discuss how GE is the full offering, the full solution in bioprocessing. For a customer who needs to start with designing a mammalian cell line that's going to produce a drug, and take that mammalian cell line through design, scale-up of the process, of the manufacturing process, optimization, and then of course all the technology stops or unit operations that we own and supply to the market are a perfect fit for that. GE is the leader in the industry at optimizing this technology in bioprocesses across the board, so science, engineering, optimization, productivity, and those are the classes of services that we provide today. We've made some pretty bold moves over the last couple of years, and we have an aspect of our business portfolio now, that's called Enterprise Solutions.
Todd S: Good afternoon, this is Todd and Todd, live in New York, Life Science Connect Radio, on location direct from Interfex day two. An exciting guest up next, Todd, an organization we've heard of before. I'm looking forward to it, but before we do that, holy smokes, what a great day we're having. Amazing guests so far.
Todd Y: There is no other such thing, other than a great day at an Interfex show. It's just so cool.
Todd S: Our next guest will not disappoint, either. Say hello to Maurice Phelan. He is the Bioprocess Services Leader with GE Healthcare. Maurice, welcome to the show.
Maurice: Good afternoon, guys. Thanks for having me.
Todd S: It's our pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and joining us. Maurice, before we get into a conversation around GE Healthcare, take a quick few seconds and tell us a little bit about you and your background.
Maurice: I'm an Irishman, moved to the US in 1986.
Todd S: I never would have guessed you're an Irishman.
Maurice: I lived in the Boston area. I've been in the bioprocess services, scientific services business for my entire career, actually. I spent fifteen years in bioprocessing at [INAUDIBLE 00:01:03] corporation. I started my own business for a while, and then joined GE in August, so I'm leading up the bioprocessing services initiative in healthcare.
Todd S: Methinks, Todd, he knows something about what he speaks. Go up to 10,000 feet. Talk to us about GE Healthcare. What are you doing and how are you serving your market?
Maurice: Well, our story is really around the full offering, the full solution. For a customer who needs to start with designing a mammalian cell line that's going to produce a drug, and take that mammalian cell line through design, scale-up of the process, of the manufacturing process, optimization, and then of course all the technology stops or unit operations that we own and supply to the market are a perfect fit for that.
Todd Y: Morris, I look at a phrase like bioprocess services, and services is so broad. I'm not really sure what it means. Give us a little deeper insight into GE bioprocess services.
Maurice: Well, we're on a journey. Traditionally, we have done an awful lot of, I would say, leading, engineering leading around process design, optimization of processes where we are the technology suppliers.
For example, chromatography, process chromatography and capture of biomolecules is a core strength, and arguably, when people say GE Healthcare and the life science and bioprocess division, that's the immediate connection. If you own that leadership position, you must be the technical leader.
We would be the leader in the industry at optimizing this technology in bioprocesses across the board, so science, engineering, optimization, productivity, and those are the classes of services that we provide today. We've made some pretty bold moves over the last couple of years, and we have an aspect of our business portfolio now, that's called Enterprise Solutions.
Inside of Enterprise Solutions, we are designing and supplying platform manufacturing processes, all single-use and disposable for antibody manufacture. We're also building the actual factories. GE has moved from a technology leader to a technology leader that has a complete solution around the development and manufacture of therapeutic proteins, vaccines, and even pharma.
Todd S: Maurice, talk about some of the other – your current offerings in the space of the moment, and more importantly, how they integrate into other product portfolios.
Maurice: Today, the services that I described are mostly engineering and scientific services. Right now, the way they map into our current offering is really around, I would say, optimization and what I would call design-in. Normally, the choice of technology is based on – it's a science, data-driven decision.
It's technology for our function. The top piece and the piece that we do a lot of services in today is making sure that, for the investment that we made and the technology, that it's optimized. The user, the manufacturer, is getting everything that they possibly can for choosing and making that investment.
Moving forward, we are actively – and it's my role at GE Healthcare, to put together a strategy where we move to a solutions services business, where we're actually working with our customers to identify and deliver outcomes.
Very much like some of the stories and discussions you might have heard in the days where IBM was transitioning from a computer company to something else, I think the great thing about the way GE looks at business is that it's always getting better.
One of the things that will make it always be better is the fact that we're leading with our expertise, whether it's acquired or organic, and we will be the company that's working on outcomes-based solutions, which will pull all of the technology and the various pieces that we've assembled in our portfolio.
Todd S: That's a really interesting perspective, because you're talking in terms of not so much solving a problem, but delivering an outcome. You said that three or four different ways just now, which I think is a really interesting way to approach the problem. How do customers react to that? Aren't customers trained to say, “Here's my problem, come fix it?” It's a different approach.
Maurice: You know, right now, it's all very new. It's new for us, but we know that's where we need to get to. It's very, very new for our customers, and in actuality, if we're going there together, they're going to have to change along with us, and part of what needs to be changed is understanding that they're becoming much more open for the greater good.
There's an awful lot of IP, presumed IP, on both sides. We are going to have to get locked in on what the result is going to be, or what the outcome is, and then say, in actuality, nothing matters more than getting there. Then it becomes easy to find the path. The other thing is, the other thing that's required – GE Healthcare has done this, and we'll need executive sponsorship at the customer level.
These things, working on these types of issues, it's really strategic. Strategy is driven down, not up, in an organization. We need to be working at the right level, partnering at the right level, at the right relationship, and then it'll happen.
Todd S: Todd, with every show we do, no matter the space, no matter the industry, when we're knee-deep in a show, a theme emerges there that we weren't anticipating, and this show is single-use. I've gotten more involved in that idea in this show than I was anticipating. Maurice, talk to me how single-use is impacting your work.
Maurice: Well, firstly, single-use is a very big piece of our business. As a company, we are fully focused on the single use, the application of single use, the utility of it, measuring how well it works on plugging in single use disposable platforms into every single part of the bioprocess.
I mean, we've made some very big investments around the single use value chain, if you like. For example, today, we are the only company that actually offers something called Flex Factory, which is an entire, end-to-end manufacturing platform, where cells in, antibody out, on a platform that's entirely disposable or single use. Nobody else actually has that or offers it.
Todd Y: You just said single use factory.
Maurice: Right? It's the next discussion, right? We call it a Flex Factory, but you can imagine in emerging markets – China, for example, where you cannot go into the clinic without having material that's been made in China.
Now, traditionally, brick and mortar, stainless steel factories are a four or five year capital project. We're doing modular facilities, so design, build, put it together, bricks, mortar, everything, an operational factory in under two years.
Todd S: That's amazing.
Maurice: Yes, of course, the technology comes along with it, and we've got that, but it's enabling in places that need vaccine manufacturing, in places that need just everything done quicker, because the population's getting richer, the whole emerging market dynamic. It's perfect for us, and we're so far ahead of the others in this area that it's really a perfect discussion to have on next generation and where we're going with all this.
Todd S: It's interesting you said that, that so far ahead comment is what I was referring to, because I love to ask what do you see coming next, and I feel like the last fifteen minutes has been talking about what's coming next, but it's what's now. What is next?
Maurice: Next, but not far away, is how do we enable this industry – the headline for is how does GE, or how will GE enable this industry by getting asked all the data that they're generating and not using?
In other parts of our business, there are locomotives and jet engines and power stations, communicating real time, all day, every day, with predictive platforms which say not, “You need to fix that engine,” but, “This needs to be done because we understand what happens if it isn't done, and it'll prevent an awful lot down the road.”
[INAUDIBLE 00:10:26] optimize the pharma, biotech facility using analytics and productivity is enormous. We've made extremely big commitments and investments, and the great thing about [INAUDIBLE 00:10:40] is that I've come on to GE to deliver on those investments and put the story together. I share to people all the time, I've got the best job in the company.
Todd Y: Wow, how do we get this guy to come back, Todd?
Todd S: The next best job is I get to talk to this guy once a year. I'm looking forward to that. Maurice, I hate to say it, but we're out of time. Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you and learn more about your work at GE Healthcare?
Maurice: Well, they can certainly just go to my Google Me or LinkedIn page. I'm Maurice.Phelan@GE.com is my email, and I'm happy to talk to anybody, particularly if they want to talk about the data projects.
Todd S: Perfect.
Todd Y: I'm the data freak.
Todd S: Maurice Phelan, a bioprocess services leader with GE Healthcare. Maurice, it was great to have you. Thanks for stopping by and joining us.
Maurice: Thanks, guys.
Todd S: Alright, that wraps this broadcast on behalf of our guest, Maurice Phelan, my co-host, Todd Youngblood. I'm Todd Schnick, Life Science Connect Radio's live coverage from Interfex. We'll be right back.