FinVector Vision Therapies Oy, which develops viral-based gene therapy products, has put its dreams on paper and moved purposefully towards them. Such determination has borne fruit.
FinVector has a 25-year history encompassing both ups and downs. The difficult times, however, have always been followed by recovery. In 2004, the company put the first drug for brain cancer on the market and raised 80 million euros in funds on the London Stock Exchange. FinVector was a pioneer in its field in the West, but development of the drug clashed with the requirements of the authorities for further research. Currently under development is a drug for bladder cancer, which has produced promising test results.
The owners’ investment decisions and commitment to develop the facilities in Kuopio have been a key factor behind FinVector’s success. FinVector’s Managing Director, Timo Ristola, says it was important that the company had a big investment in Kuopio when the difficulties started. The owners saw that it was not worth closing the Kuopio facility, and contract manufacturing of drugs entered the picture. Ristola says that help was also found locally when times were at their hardest. Kuopio Business Development Services has played a key role – for example, in facilitating the progress of the bladder cancer drug.
A great new phase in the company’s history is now underway following the decision of the new owner (Trizell Ltd) to make an even bigger clean room investment in Kuopio, in addition to the facility at Technopolis. It will be the production plant for the bladder cancer drug and will operate continuously. That operations have been anchored in Kuopio is also a consequence of the nearby national Lab Animal Centre of the University of Eastern Finland.
“They are invaluable things with regard to our location,” Ristola says.
Ristola thinks that the secret of FinVector’s success is largely based on the Finnish education system. Although it does not pay to use Finnish labour in many industrial sectors, in the pharmaceutical industry the cost structure for Finnish employees is still competitively efficient. The price tag for highly educated people in Finland is reasonable, in Ristola’s opinion, even though working in the pharmaceutical industry requires the ability to handle complex processes and a deep understanding of devices combining biology, technology, physics and chemistry.
“We’ve been lucky with regard to recruitment. We feared it would be a challenge, but we’ve managed to recruit enough skilled professionals. Nor has there been a problem in finding foreign workers; at the peak, we’ve had a staff of more than ten different nationalities.”
Ristola has a tip for businesses seeking success – they should think big. He believes you should boldly write down your concrete dreams.
“If you set out towards your dreams, without being greedy, then, sure enough, the business will also begin to turn in that direction. Plans don’t always work out, but even failures can lead to surprising upturns. That is something we’ve seen in our business, too. It’s all experience, in any case.”