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A talk with Mohammed Moin, co-founder of Somru BioScience Inc.

Somru BioScience Inc. co-founder Mohammed Moin, sees the Charlottetown-based company becoming a world leader in several bioscience areas. The green box on Moin’s desk is a sample biomarker laboratory test kit that will be exported to Bangladesh as part of a joint venture with Radiant Pharmaceuticals.
Somru BioScience Inc. co-founder Mohammed Moin, sees the Charlottetown-based company becoming a world leader in several bioscience areas. The green box on Moin’s desk is a sample biomarker laboratory test kit that will be exported to Bangladesh as part of a joint venture with Radiant Pharmaceuticals.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Somru BioScience Inc. is one of those businesses in the West Royalty Industrial Park that you may drive by and not realize the important work that happens behind its doors.  

But for the Charlottetown-based company with 15 employees (five more working abroad), big things are on the horizon.

The company was founded in 2012 by Mohammed Moin, vice-president of strategy, partnership and business development, his wife Dihan Ahsan (director of corporate services), his brother Rafiq (chief science advisor) and Rafiq’s wife Clarinda Islam (vice-president of project management and regulatory affairs).

Somru BioScience made headlines in recent weeks when it announced a joint venture with Radiant Pharmaceuticals in Bangladesh to develop and export biomarker laboratory test kits for diabetic and oncology patients.

The venture is expected to generate $50 million in export sales over five years and bring 100 new jobs to the Charlottetown company.

The deal fits well with Somru’s plans to eventually move into its new 5,000 square-foot facility in the BioCommons Research Park on 1.3 acres of land.

Moin, 35, explains the final phase of the project is a 20,000 square-foot facility.

Moin graduated in 2005 from UPEI with a computer science degree and a minor in business. Rather than leave the Island, Moin decided to stay and work for several startup companies.

He then started Somru BioScience.

It is a business on the rise, but for Moin, it’s more than that. It’s also a story about family and calling Charlottetown home.

Moin sat down with The Guardian this week to talk about the business and personal motivations behind it.

Q: What does Somru BioScience do?

A: We develop innovative technologies and solutions for research, diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. We are currently exporting our product to over 20 different countries and we have over 70 clients all over the world. We have over 60 products for 30 different drugs that we are helping pharmaceutical companies and research organizations to bring them to the market sooner. We have developed kits against those 30 innovator drugs. And, whenever any companies are trying to make a copy of any of those 30 drugs, they partner with us. We help them do the safety and efficacy of the drugs. That’s the primary business we are in – helping those companies accelerate their drug development.    

Q: It’s often cited that biosciences is a $240-million industry on the Island. What is it like to be a part of that industry?

A: I think on the Island a lot of good things are happening. We are becoming a research hub. We are receiving the federal and provincial feedback that we need. We have a really good umbrella organization. We have a very good incubation service. It’s a very tight knit community. That’s what I found from the beginning. That was the reason for me not doing it in the U.S. but doing it in Canada. Doing it in P.E.I., specifically, I don’t think any other place in Canada do you get that tight-knit community feeling. The benefit P.E.I. brings is that people are nice and willing to help.

Q: Why is the company called Somru?

A: That was my dad’s nickname. The company is named after my dad (Shamsul Islam). That’s what motivated us to get into the business.

Q: Explain how your father’s illness and death from cancer inspired you and your brother Rafiq to start the company.

A: When I was in Grade 12 in 2000 (in Bangladesh), my father was diagnosed with cancer. We (Mohammed and Rafiq) tried to take his disease as a problem and how can we solve it. I was navigating through the health care system in Bangladesh trying to find out the right therapy or right treatment. Then I realized it’s very difficult to navigate through the health care system and you don’t have access to those life-saving drugs. We tried to import a product and found it was hugely expensive. When we were getting into this industry, that was one of the key things in our minds was how do we bring affordable drugs to the market sooner.

Q: Where do you see Somru BioScience in five or 10 years?

A: I see us becoming a leading biosimilar solution provider in the world. I see us becoming a leading companion diagnostic service provider for many of the drugs that are coming to the market in the next five to 10 years. I also see us as being a role model in the molecular diagnostic service throughout the world.

Q: Those are pretty lofty goals for a company with 15 people in Charlottetown.

A: Yeah, I see. The way we were doubling our revenue for the last five years, I think we’re at the turning point right now – that we will be pretty much doubling our human resources in a year or so. And, the way we are growing, I think it is a very realistic goal.

terrence.mceachern@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/terry_mcn

 

 

 

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