Refresh, reset and reboot by Hala Audi

The start of 2023 has been special for me, as I have celebrated my first year as the CEO of Unizima.

I always knew I was in for an adventure, and let’s be honest, it is Univercells’ utterly serious determination to disrupt the old order in biologics manufacturing and access to health, that made me make the jump. Still, I never thought I could learn so much and change so much as a person in one year as I did in 2022. That was thanks to working with the amazing team of biomanufacturing and global health experts at Unizima and across the Univercells group. And getting to grips with the challenges our clients and partners are solving, each with their own circumstances, but all ultimately looking to expand manufacturing capacity for live-saving biologics in countries with heavy and unmet disease burdens.

We are driven by the promise of creating more resilient health systems and ensuring that the inequity in access to medicines and vaccines that was experienced during past infectious disease epidemics and pandemics, does not repeat itself.

Our approach is to partner with biomanufacturers, governments and funders to deliver value-driven, integrated, and end-to-end solutions, to make biologics development and production in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and emerging markets, a reality.

In doing so, we have passed some important milestones over the past 12 months: from workforce development, to fill-and-finish projects, and in-licensing support in Senegal, Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, and Mozambique, we are working with governments and in-country institutions to deliver ground-breaking manufacturing capabilities. Our product identification and market analysis is helping clients develop more compelling business cases to expand their portfolios, and the Gates Foundation-funded technology transfer project we are part of at the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, promises to have a hugely beneficial impact on the supplier diversification for a critical routine vaccine for measles and rubella.

Our feasibility study on the profitability analysis for fill-and-finish factories for vaccines in Africa, commissioned by a leading European government’s development agency, has highlighted our ability to deliver trusted and reliable advice, grounded in local realities and building on our team’s biomanufacturing industry experience across multiple health systems and health products.

Building on these successes, we are looking forward to the year ahead, as new projects in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia Pacific come on stream in the coming months. A major theme I have seen emerging loud and clear in recent conversations is the focus on attracting and retaining talent. There is a growing consensus that perhaps there has been too much focus on facilities and buildings, and not enough investment in the skills and people needed to drive the biomanufacturing revolution in these markets.  While operational readiness of facilities and the availability of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies will continue to be a core driver, I am excited about the projects that my team is involved in, related to strengthening the biomanufacturing skills pipeline in our key markets.

Our new brand identity that we are launching today is founded on the positive transformations we are creating for the people we work with - our clients and stakeholders, the teams they employ and their communities at large. It also reflects our approach of working side-by-side on the ground with our clients, and our goal of building long-term, trust-based relationships to deliver life-changing biologics to people who would otherwise lack access to them.

So, whatever changes and challenges 2023 brings, collaborate with us: we will help you adapt to new trends, foresee and overcome hurdles, and accomplish your biomanufacturing goals. In doing so, we hope we can improve the health outcomes for millions in your country, and around the world.

Hala Audi, CEO of Unizima