In August, 2017 PEI’s Somru BioScience announced it was teaming up with Radiant Pharmaceuticals, a company from Bangladesh. The partnership will establish a laboratory that will use test kits developed and manufactured on PEI to help diagnose diabetic and caner patients in Bangladesh.
Over the next five years, Somru expects to create $50 million in export sales and add 100 new employees to its PEI operation. Somru will be looking to hire people with bioscience backgrounds.
“I am very pleased to announce this joint venture initiative with Radiant Pharmaceuticals,” says Mohammed Moin, Vice President of Somru BioScience. Through their partnership, Somru will develop and manufacture the laboratory-developed tests in their facility in Charlottetown and export them to Bangladesh to be executed in a jointly-established lab. Somru will also provide the necessary training and logistics support.
“In March, we turned the sod on Somru’s 5,000 square foot expansion at the PEI BioCommons, and the investment from ACOA is already paying off with this new joint venture with Radiant,” says MP Sean Casey, who represented Navdeep Bains, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, and Minister responsible for ACOA. “It says great things about the innovation and drive of PEI’s bioscience community.”
A good news story about immigration
“This success story is not just about Biosicence,” says Heath MacDonald, PEI Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. “Immigration played a major role. Mohammed Moin came to PEI as a student looking for a better life for his family, and we have adopted him now. We are proud to have Somru as part of the PEI bioscience community. The contribution to employment is outstanding.”
“I am pleased to visit the vibrant bioscience cluster on PEI,” says Abu Shahriar Zahedee, Executive Director of Radiant. “My company invests in importing, marketing, distributing, and manufacturing pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and diagnostic products. We believe the new joint venture collaboration between Somru and Radiant will support the growing healthcare needs of millions of people in Bangladesh.”
Developing personalized medicine
“This joint venture is a huge opportunity for Somru to make a difference in millions of people’s lives,” says Rafiq Islam, Chief Scientific Officer and cofounder of Somru. “Access to effective medicine is not only an issue for developing countries. In North America, some statistics say only 50 percent of prescribed medicine truly helps patients with the problem it is prescribed for.
“There is an urgent and unmet need for personalized medicine to improve the treatment of diseases all over the world.
“Through this collaboration, not only are we delivering personalized medicine to a population of 180 million people, but we are also collecting data that will help us to understand why some drugs work for some people and do not work for others. It will help us understand the safety and effectiveness of drugs, and how it relates to gender, physiology, and genetics. Our long-term vision is to use this valuable data to develop better targeted treatment strategies.
“We at Somru BioScience want to make a better world through our dedication to research and innovation, and by engaging like-minded organizations like Radient Pharmaceuticals.”
About the staff
At present, Somru has 15 employees on PEI, including Scientists, Quality Control Technicians, and administrative positions. A few of the Research Technicians are Holland College graduates.
“I would like to thank our employees for their hard work,” says Rafiq. “We are here because of their dedication. So many times I have come to them at the last moment to say we need this assay finished in two weeks, and I know in my heart it’s two months worth of work, but they always come through.”
PEI's Bioscience cluster
“Somru is an early-stage company, just five years old,” says Rory Francis, Executive Director, PEI BioAlliance. “They have a great vision and some very smart people with a drive to succeed. The great news is that we have more of those companies in our business incubation pipeline.
“It takes a community to build successful bioscience companies. PEI’s bioscience cluster has been part of the successful journey that Somru has taken over the last several years. We ask the organizations involved to continue to collaborate, and to help companies thrive here on PEI. It involves taking some risks so that we can continue to grow the bioscience cluster and to have more companies like Somru in the future.”
“We appreciate and thank Innovation PEI, Finance PEI, National Research Council, IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance program), ACOA, Atlantic Veterinary College, and the PEI BioAlliance,” says Mohammed Moin.
Somru employee says flexibility is important
Susan Holland was born and raised on PEI, and is a direct descendant of Samuel Holland, who created the first modern map of PEI. She worked in Ottawa for many years, and then returned to PEI. She has worked at Somru for almost two years.
“We have a very diverse group at Somru,” says Susan. “There are people from Bangladesh, Peru, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Saskatchewan, and five Islanders as well. It is awesome to see Islanders getting the education and having a place to work right here. I grew up on PEI, and I’m glad to be back. It’s good to move away for a while and grow in a new environment, and it is great to come back and bring that knowledge with you.”
She met Mohammed Moin and his wife Dihan Ahsan in 2004. “Mohammed was here as a student, and the software engineering company I worked for hired him. I got to know him and his wife.
“Because we worked together, Mohammed knew my skills. When he needed to hire someone for his company, he asked me, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity. I was in a management position with the other company, so technically, he worked for me. And now I work for him!”
“I use many of the skills I developed over the years in the job I am doing now. In Ottawa, I worked for a public relations company doing training and special events. That was great learning for me, because I was there as office manager and accountant. It was a smaller company, so I got to learn a variety of roles.”
At Somru, Susan does logistics management. “I write a lot of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and organize the scientific ones to make sure they are getting done.
“When we do logistics for clinical trials, we are hired by a big pharmaceutical company that has contracted clinics all around the country to test the product and gather data. I do the coordination between the lab and the clinics.
“Somru is a great team environment. People help each other, and no one minds working overtime when it is required. We have had a few new hires within the last few months, and they are working out great.”
For more information, visit www.somrubioscience.com.
For more about PEI Bioscience companies, visit www.peibioalliance.com.