German biotech firm BioNTech became world famous for developing the mRNA-based Covid vaccine with Pfizer. One of the key figures behind the success was Chief Business and Commercial Officer Sean Marett, who took his MBA at AMBS.
In our latest Original Thinking live podcast, Sean shares the extraordinary story about how the company turned itself on its head from a business developing cancer treatments to one that rapidly began developing a Covid vaccine. He also talks candidly about how the MBA equipped him with crucial skills that he was able to call upon during the Covid crisis.
At our recent Vital Topics lecture Sean admitted that initially his company had no idea if its Covid vaccine was going to work. “We had no idea if anyone was going to buy it even if it worked. We had no supply agreements in place. No global distribution. We had to do all that in 11 months. In the end we actually received approval for the vaccine while we were still scaling up. This meant that 180 countries all wanted our vaccine so we had to decide how to distribute that.”
With the immediate Covid crisis over, the company is now renewing its focus on cancer treatments. For instance, in January this year it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK government to test its different technologies in cancer patients in the UK.