NCF (Notiziario Chimico Farmaceutico): GLOBAL EXCELLENCE OF CDMO AND GENERIC API INDUSTRY – Interview with CEO Paolo Tubertini

Olon Group is an Italian company specialising in the production of active ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry. With a trajectory marked by strong organic growth, it has evolved into a global entity with a presence across multiple countries, thanks to strategic acquisitions of some of the best Italian and international manufacturing realities. Boasting a network of 11 production facilities worldwide, Olon Group has consistently invested in cutting-edge technology and research and development for over two decades, where know-how, experience and data are shared across its production sites to strengthen skills and support the development of new processes to provide customers with valuable solutions, Olon Group CEO Paolo Tubertini explains.

Olon Group is a world leader in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Can you tell us a bit about how this success story started and developed?

“Since the early 2000s, the P&R Group, originally specialised in the production of fine chemicals, made a shift to invest in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Over the past two decades, following a development strategy that is always focused on growth and reinvestment, Olon has acquired existing production facilities, adding to their technological repertoire and fostering a culture of constant skill diversification and technique enhancement to elevate technological standards and boost industrial-scale production capacity through innovative and sustainable processes. Our vision has always been focused on promoting research, and in 2023, we invested approximately 40 million euros and employed around 300 people in research activities, with a short-term plan to boost this number to around 350 researchers, constituting 15% of our workforce of over 2,300. This strategy has led the Olon Group to be an increasingly competitive player on the global market, and an international leader. In 2023, we closed the year with a turnover exceeding 600 million euros.”

Can you give us some examples of the cutting-edge technologies Olon has invested in?

“Olon continually invests in new technologies to pioneer innovative synthesis routes to support the development of new molecules and produce active ingredients that embrace environmentally-friendly biotechnological processes. In the field of chemistry we focus on flow chemistry, photochemistry and electrochemistry.

Last November, we opened our international research and development hub in Rodano, a municipality in the Metropolitan City of Milan, where our company headquarters and factory are also located. With a substantial investment of 10 million euros, this hub serves as a strategic site for expertise in advanced production processes, high containment technologies and applied process development. Equipped with a modern laboratory, it consolidates diverse skills from across our production sites, fostering collaboration and enhancing internal know-how.  Through advanced systems, we facilitate seamless data and information sharing between sites, ensuring unparalleled flexibility and reliability, increasing the consistent quality of our products and assurance of the global product supply, to strengthen Olon’s global network for the development of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to meet the evolving demands of the Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation and generic markets.”

What are the main solutions and innovations currently being developed at Olon Group?

“With regard to our high-containment production lines, we have implemented new, advanced systems for the transformation and handling of substances up to a 0.1 ng/m3 containment level, and we are actively investing in the production of ultrapotent active ingredients that will allow us to reach a containment level of up to 10 ng/m3.  Regarding microbial fermentation activities, we’re proud to operate industrial-scale facilities dedicated to the production of alternative consumer proteins using innovative and sustainable processes, and our Olon Biotech division offers Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO) services, as well as developing, producing and selling proprietary products (PP) to support client companies in a wide range of industries—notably pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetics. With over 5,000 square metres of fermentation capacity, our production facilities rank among the largest in the pharmaceutical market. Globally, we are one of the few suppliers capable of integrating every level of containment, from initial API development to commercial production, from just a few grams to hundreds of kilograms.”

How does Olon Group approach client relationships?

“At Olon Group, our commitment to our clients revolves around three core pillars: flexibility, innovation and reliability.

Firstly, we pride ourselves on our ability to cater to every client requirement and timeframe, no matter how stringent, and we understand that speed and getting things Right First Time (RFT) in the world of pharmaceuticals is paramount for our clients.

Innovation is the driving force behind everything we do. We continually improve our facilities, investing in new production processes and organisational structure to meet market demands. We ensure that we are always prepared to meet any request that comes our way and remain competitive.

Finally, reliability is the bedrock of our client relationships. We understand the critical importance of maintaining resilient production chains to mitigate risks and ensure consistent supply.  Precision and punctuality are non-negotiables for us, as we recognise the serious implications of unexpected shortages in the pharmaceutical market, with an obvious impact on patients.

In addition, we are deeply committed to eco-sustainability; we recognise that protecting the environment is paramount in ensuring coherent and balanced growth. Through significant investments in activities like photovoltaic energy production, we actively contribute to environmental protection. We use the best available technologies and continuously monitor our business processes to minimise our environmental footprint, to protect the environment, and to contribute to the sustainable development of our region.”