An Interview with Ascendia Pharma CEO: Keys to Growth
Ascendia Pharma has enjoyed significant success over the past few years. While it is an ever-evolving process, the company’s growth has recently been recognized by one of the most respected business media properties – Inc. Ascendia’s emergence as a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) in the pharmaceutical industry has resulted in the company being ranked in the prestigious 2020 Inc. 5000 – a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.
We sat down with Ascendia CEO Jim Huang, Ph.D. to learn more about the growth of Ascendia Pharma. He gave insight as to where the company is currently and the business plan moving forward, even in these uncertain times created by COVID-19.
Q: What 1-2 key factors do you attribute the dramatic growth of Ascendia Pharma over the past three years?
JH: Ascendia Pharma has implemented a BEST philosophy that serves as the foundation upon which the company is built. The pillars are:
Of course, such a philosophy is only successful if it is implemented properly. That is why our team is integral to establishing that cultural mantra. Our scientists and staff understand how to leverage our proprietary technologies and realize we must be flexible and responsive to individual customer needs. The BEST approach builds a bridge to connect all the elements, so that we can address our diverse customers and their unique drug formulation requirements.
Q: What does being ranked in the 2020 Inc. 5000 mean for Ascendia Pharma?
JH: The 2020 Inc. 5000 rankings are based on documented success and tangible growth, so there is no ambiguity to the award. That is one reason it is held in such high regard. Third-party acknowledgement brings with it a special cache and adds credibility to every company on the list.
The award is also recognition that Ascendia Pharma is becoming known beyond our peers in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical markets. The general business community also understands what we have accomplished and is impressed by our growth.
Q: How has Ascendia Pharma navigated through the current economic climate and what do you see moving forward due to the pandemic?
JH: As an essential company, we have been operating continually even after the shutdown orders were given. Our primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of our employees. We have achieved this goal by implementing all measures recommended by leading global health and government agencies. Best practices include frequent hand washing, sanitizing our facility, maintaining social distancing, and taking every employee’s temperature daily.
We are proud of how our colleagues have acted while at work, as well as out of office to keep themselves and everyone around them safe. We could not have done it without their vigilance.
For these reasons, we continue to meet and exceed the needs of our diverse customer base in their COVID-related developments, in addition to those that were already underway. Our goal today remains as it has always been – to play a vital role in support of our clients providing new formulations and life-saving drugs, for clinical trials in oncology, central nervous system (CNS), cardiovascular (CV), and other disease states. Drug development must continue in all areas through the pandemic.
Q: What is the culture of Ascendia Pharma?
JH: We believe that as a CDMO our most important asset is to be a partner to our clients. That means an unparalleled commitment to customer service, which is innate within our people at Ascendia. Early-stage drug development has many forks in the path to successful formations. We utilize our technologies simultaneously, so we can change direction quickly and not lose valuable time to still meet stringent deadlines. The other part of that equation is being extremely responsive to client requests.
Our growth and success are contingent on continuing to be flexible and responsive. Fortunately, we are in position to expand our team of talented professionals with those who fit our culture and approach. This gives us the ability to meet the needs of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies looking for a CDMO partner who they trust to see their projects to fruition, from formulation and analytical development to clinical trial materials for the clinic.
Q: How would you explain the CDMO services Ascendia provides to pharmaceutical and biopharma companies?
JH: What separates Ascendia Pharma from other CDMOs – and is key to the growth that ranked us in the 2020 Inc. 5000 – is a strong commitment to customer service by our team of experienced scientists. It allows us to develop formulations for every available dosage form and use our proprietary technology platforms when requested to enhance the Intellectual Property of a given product:
EmulSol is a novel nano-emulsion technology that uses no organic co-solvents and a minimal amount of surfactant excipients. The result is our nano-emulsions are suitable for pharmaceutical applications.
AmorSol amorphous solid dispersion technology can enable pharmaceutical products with enhanced bioavailability, reduced food-effect, and more rapid onset-of-action.
NanoSol is a technology for the production of nano-sized drug particles. Formulation of a drug substance in nano-particle form can increase the surface area available for dissolution by ten-to-twenty-fold.
All of our nano-technologies can be utilized for diverse compounds. Our excellent scientific team uses these advanced products to combine substrates into different forms and drug delivery methods. This combination of the aforementioned solutions makes Ascendia Pharma a CDMO partner of choice and has made “the impossible possible” for several customers.
Another differentiator for us is that we have a 360-degree perspective. By that I mean we understand the needs of the drug development groups at the pharmaceutical companies, as well as the commercial teams that are bringing those products to market.
Q: What are your plans to continue Ascendia Pharma’s growth?
JH: Ascendia Pharma has had success at early-stage drug development since our inception. Due to this track record at the discovery stage, more of our customers have asked us to partner with them as their formulations continue through the drug pipeline to ensure success. For this reason, we are seeing growth opportunities moving to human concept testing. We will continue to further support customers from early- to late-stage development.
It is a natural progression for us. It will include us expanding our facility, hiring more diverse talent, and purchasing new equipment – all of which we are in the midst of implementing.
Contact us to learn more about Ascendia Pharma’s approach to formulation development and see how we can add value to your product portfolio and pipeline.
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