Alan Shortall is the Founder, CEO and Executive Director of Unilife. The company is a developer and maker of advanced drug delivery systems based in the United States. Unilife was founded by Alan Shortall in 2002. The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Presentation Solutions.
Presentation Solutions: Welcome, Alan Shortall.
Alan Shortall: Thank you for having me.
Presentation Solutions: Can you please give a brief history of Unilife?
Alan Shortall: Certainly. Unilife was founded in 2002 in Australia. We listed under ASX in Australia in November 2002. At that time I think we employed three or four people. Since then we have actually transitioned the company where we’ve developed a string of technologies.
Presentation Solutions: However, the company is currently located in the United States, correct?
Alan Shortall: Yes. We acquired a company in central Pennsylvania in 2007. We relocated our corporate headquarters to central Pennsylvania in 2008. In 2010 we actually listed on the NASDAQ exchange. So we’re now a fully-U.S. corporation. We do still trade on ASX but it’s actually not shares that trade on the ASX; it’s what they call CDIs—CHESS depositary Interests.
Presentation Solutions: Unilife’s new manufacturing facility in York, Pennsylvania is certainly state of the art.
Alan Shortall: Yes, but this state of the art facility does more than just provide us a place to do our business. We were just in the perfect position at the perfect time to capitalize on the changes in the pharmaceutical industry and the changes in the medical device industry. It’s put us in the perfect position because as I said we’ve got the innovation, we’ve got the skills, we have the expertise, and we have the flexibility in our infrastructure—but we actually have a building in place where pharmaceutical companies can come to visit.
So when the pharmaceutical companies come and audit our facility and look at it, they can see that we are actually operating at the same standard to which they are. That gives them a trust and confidence in our ability to deliver. But more importantly, as I say, we actually have the credibility—not because of the innovation of having done the impossible with Unifill—but having built that substantial 165,000 sq. ft. state of the art facility within 12 months and 1 week.
We’re showing the pharmaceutical companies that we are nimble and determined enough to be able to deliver to their needs and their unmet needs, for them to be able to deliver their biologics into the market on time.
Presentation Solutions: Where does your manufacturing take place?
Alan Shortall: All of our manufacturing operations are now in the USA. We’re a fully US company, listed on NASDAQ. In fact, we only have three or four staff in Australia. We completed a 165,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in December 2010. I might add a state of the art manufacturing facility! We’ve got over eleven clean rooms with full, particular control, climate controlled, moisture controlled, and particular extraction.. They were designed for us by an architectural firm that specializes in manufacturing facilities for pharmaceutical industries—which is an important element. When pharmaceutical companies come and visit our facility, they can see that we’re actually producing product at the same level and standard that they do in their own facilities.
Presentation Solutions: You are relatively a new company. Have you hired a lot of new people?
Alan Shortall: Over the last nine years we’ve gone from employing three people to where we now employ over 150 people.
Presentation Solutions: Can you please tell our readers about your world-class board members and executive team?
Alan Shortall: The significance of having completed the world-class facility that gives us credibility in the marketplace—not only credibility in the marketplace but amongst our peers in the industry. Quite a number of those peers have actually come knocking on our door recently, asking if they can come and play the game with us.
Here’s an example of a number of them. We’ve had a lady by the name of Mary Kate Wold join our board of directors. Mary Kate previously, as a lawyer, was a partner with Shearman and Sterling—one of the leading law firms in the USA. Mary Kate was chairwoman of their tax advisory committee. Mary Kate was headhunted by a major pharmaceutical company called Wyatt. Mary Kate was with Wyatt for approximately eight or nine years. She was executive Vice President of Finance for Wyatt before Wyatt was bought out by Pfizer for approximately $68B. So Mary Kate has a detailed knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and is a great addition to our board. [She’s] a wonderful person and very smart and [has] a great intellect.
Another member that joined our board in 2010 is a gentleman by the name of Marc Firestone. Marc Firestone is the current General Counsel with Kraft Foods. Prior to that, Marc was General Counsel for Phillip Morris. Highly experienced. Again, he’s chairman of our corporate governance committee. A great contributor to our board. He brings a lot of experience to the table.
Alan Shortall: In January 2010 we brought on a new COO, Dr. Ramin Mojdeh. Ramin was previously with Becton Dickinson—one of those incumbent, dominant medical device companies. For five years, Ramin was head of product development for BD. So he knows medical devices. He was also president of their pharma systems business for North America. So he understands the pharma systems and pharmaceutical business as well. He brings a depth of knowledge of the industry to the table.
Also we brought on VP of Strategic Marketing, Dr. Jack Kelley. Jack was previously in a similar position with Becton Dickinson also. We brought on a VP of commercial development, Mike Ratigan. Mike, again, was in a similar position with BD.
These people are just a sample of the high performance industry leadrs that are coming to Unilife. We haven’t solicited them. They are coming to Unilife because they recognize that the game is changing, that Unilife is very much part of making that happen, and that Unilife is writing a new rulebook. They see that as a successful strategy. They want to be on a winning team.
Presentation Solutions: Tell us about the people that are developing new pipeline products.
Alan Shortall: We have a team of people that are actually developing products for us. We’ve already demonstrated our ability to be creative and innovative by doing the impossible with the Unifill. That same expertise is now developing a team of new products that are coming through the pipeline.
Presentation Solutions: What do you believe Unilife’s legacy will be?
Alan Shortall: For centuries people have rallied around causes. What Unilife is doing in many ways is an actual cause. It’s attracting high quality people. The quality and caliber of people is attracted in many ways because of our ability to not only be innovative and creative and have fun and the excitement of doing something worthwhile but the idea of being able to actually leave a worthwhile legacy behind. What we are doing is going to save a lot of lives.
Founded in Australia, Unilife still has offices in Sydney although they moved their main production facility to the United States in 2008. The company’s roots in Australia began when two inventors approached the firm’s future CEO Alan Shortall with a revolutionary idea. Shortall helped to found the medical device company that designs and distributes syringes and other injectable devices to pharmaceutical companies across the globe.
Unilife Australia Street Address
Suite 3, Level 11, 1 Chifley Square,
Sydney 2000 NSW Australia
Unilife Australia Postal Address
GPO Box 3400
Sydney 2001 NSW Australia
Tel: +612 8346 6500
Fax: +612 8346 6511