THE global recession has given an unexpected business focus to Billingham-based Cambridge Research Biochemicals (CRB).
Where other businesses have been pulling in their horns, CRB, one of the UK's leading manufacturers of medical research synthetic peptides, has seized the opportunity to examine its core strengths; namely, partnership working.
As a result, it is increasing its links with academic institutions, most notably Durham University, and partnering with overseas agents to find new customers in virgin export areas as well as expand their share in existing overseas markets.
"Strategic partnerships are a good way to grow our business," explains CRB's commercial director, Emily Humphrys.
"With academic institutes, which are very research-orientated, we can offer them the selling and marketing skills that they lack.
"And when it comes to finding new customers in new countries, it's much more cost-effective to use like-minded experts, to ourselves, who are on the ground."
Peptides, which are fragments of proteins, are key to new drug development.
As synthetic peptides can be manufactured to order (unlike naturally occurring ones), they can speed up medical research.
What makes CRB, the world's second oldest peptide company, stand out from competitors, is that they make bespoke products, entirely determined by customers' needs, rather than just provide off-the-shelf solutions.
Not surprisingly, it has customers that include the top 10 giants of the international pharmaceutical world as well as world-renowned research institutes.
In March, CRB signed an exclusive deal with Japanese-based BioBridge, a pharmaceutical and life sciences marketing agency with expert knowledge and contacts in the Far East market.
"With Biobridge as a partner, it allows us to expand more rapidly in Japan," explains Humphrys.
Through a similar collaboration, with a marketing agency in Taiwan, CRB has already broken into a previously hard-to-reach market.
The company is pursuing partnerships with similar specialist marketing agencies in China, Singapore, Israel, Scandinavia, France and the west coast of the United States.
Since Humphrys and operations director Alison White acquired CRB (originally part of ICI) in a management buyout in 2000, they have made a point of building strategic alliances with academic institutions. …