Australian manufacturers fight against COVID-19
The spread of COVID-19 around the world has produced a multitude of challenges, not least an urgent need for medical equipment supplies and staff.
In Australia and around the world, a shortage of items like ventilators and hand sanitisers has caused concern over how hospitals will be able to deal with the rapid influx of serious coronavirus cases.
An increasingly desperate situation is demanding desperate measures. Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has urged Australian manufacturers to make a wartime shift to their production from non-essential items that are not in short supply, to help the national fight against COVID-19 by producing more essential items that are urgently needed. Encouragingly steps are already being taken by manufacturing businesses big and small here and overseas to offer their support in the war against COVID-19.
Factories switching to hand sanitiser
Following the lead of the French conglomerate LVMH that runs luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior, having turned its perfume factories into hand sanitiser plants, many Australian firms have followed by switching their production lines.
One of Australia's biggest packaging companies, Pact Group, is converting production lines at three of its Sydney plants as it starts making hand sanitiser for the first time, instead of industrial cleaners. The company expects to be at full production by mid-April and will be making about two million units of hand sanitiser per month of which it anticipates that about 95 per cent of the new product will be sold in Australia. The sanitiser gel will be made using ingredients sourced locally and from China and will be packaged into 500ml, one-litre, two-litre bottles and 50ml tubes, all manufactured by Pact.
Legendary cricketer, Shane Warne’s SevenZeroEight gin distillery in Western Australia, which he co-founded with two prominent WA surgical specialists, has halted production on its award-winning gin to switch to producing medical grade 70% alcohol hand sanitiser. An agreement has already been made to supply to two nominated Western Australia hospitals at cost, until further notice.
Hand sanitiser orders from overseas are exploding for an Adelaide based manufacturer that mainly sold hair and beauty products prior to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the threat of the virus emptied supermarket shelves of hand sanitiser around the world, Artav Australia has converted one of its production lines in its factory usually used for hair and beauty products to its Dispel hand sanitising gel. It has also added another production shift for manufacturing and new staff members have swelled numbers at the factory to 60.
Boosting the supply of ventilators
HP and Smile Direct Club are working on 3D printing of parts like ventilator valves and breathing filters. HP will make its proprietary design files for these parts available, so they can be produced anywhere in the world and is also helping customers bridge potential supply chain interruptions by expanding distributed print-on-demand capabilities to anyone that needs it. Dyson has designed and built an entirely new ventilator, the CoVent in just ten days and has now received an order from the UK government for 10,000, which is starting production in April.
Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?
Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.
Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.
JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.
Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.
Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?
A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.
The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.
According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.
Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.
“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”
How did JungJin get there?
JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.
And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.
With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.
“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”