Pivot Park in Oss offers unique facilities for life sciences companies. The park came into being in 2012, when pharmaceutical heavyweight MSD decided to close down its Oss-based research department. Pivot Park acquired the buildings and equipment and established a serviced enterprise hub. Enterprises based on the park have direct access to an array of fully-equipped labs and other facilities, including a pilot plant, analytical support and a high-throughput screening centre. Pivot Park partners the Dutch Life Sciences Conference.
Unique in the Netherlands
‘No other business park in the Netherlands can offer all the facilities we can,’ says Pivot Park Director Mirjam Mol. Previously General Manager at MSD, Mirjam has been involved in the project from the start.
‘At Pivot Park, start-ups and SMEs have access to the kind of research facilities that are usually exclusive to the ‘big pharma’ sector. And the park is proving attractive to larger players as well. Although we only began in 2012, we already have about thirty-five life sciences companies on the park. Renting the laboratory facilities, office space and (open access) equipment here puts them on the same technological footing as a multinational.’
It may be just three years since Pivot Park opened, but the first success stories can already be told. In September, for example, the three-year-old company Bionovion was acquired for 29 million euros by a US firm active in the same field. Dedicated to the development of cancer drugs, Bionovion was set up in 2012 by three former MSD researchers.
Another Pivot Park firm achieving notable success is ChemConnection – also a 2012 start-up by a group of a group of entrepreneurs who used to work for MSD. ChemConnection’s activities include the contract production of nano-medications and APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients). In the space of three years, the company’s workforce has gone from four people to thirty-three. ChemConnection’s co-founder and CEO Gerjan Kemperman is in no doubt that much of his firm’s success is down to its location at Pivot Park.
‘A pilot plant for APIs is simply unaffordable for a start-up. The systems and processes involved are highly specialized. Being here at Pivot Park means that we have access to the API pilot plant that used to belong to MSD. It’s a true win-win-situation: Pivot Park gets a resident that can run a very complex facility, and we get to use a pilot plant that any other company of our size simply couldn’t dream of.’
Scientists turned entrepreneurs
Pivot Park doesn’t have direct ties with a university. That might sound like a drawback, but Gerjan Kemperman believes that it’s actually good for enterprise.
‘Universities are very research-focused,’ he says. ‘That’s all well and good. But, if you want to be successful in business, there comes a point where you have to look to the market. Where is the demand? What added value can you provide? How can you translate that into commercial success? Universities aren’t geared up to answering questions like that. By contrast, Pivot Park is a place where people are focused on the process of taking a pharmaceutical product from a germ of an idea to a market-ready product. With any given product, there is a considerable risk of failure, but the entrepreneurs here are highly motivated and surrounded by people with all the expertise required to give the best possible chance of success.’
Mirjam Mol is similarly convinced that Pivot Park delivers added value for entrepreneurs.
‘There are no really big pharmaceutical companies left in the Netherlands. What we are doing is making the infrastructure of a pharmaceutical giant available to SMEs. The strength of the Dutch life sciences sector lies in cooperation, networking and creating added value.’
Mirjam Mol and other Pivot Park representatives will be in the Exhibition area at the Dutch Life Sciences Conference.
Gerjan Kemperman of ChemConnection will be making a presentation during the Pricing Strategies workshop.