Interview with the Group President
Peter Rothschild, BioGaia’s founder and President for 19 years, has been the company’s Group President since March 2016. Here he talks about his new role.
What have you been doing for the past 12 months?
Well, my working hours are now down to full time, but it’s a whole different situation to not have operating responsibility. Thanks to our successful recruitment of Axel Sjöblad, who is now Managing Director, I have been able to focus on certain projects and long-term research and development activities. I’m also responsible for the associated company MetaboGen and BioGaia’s production company TwoPac. And I’m very involved in BioGaia’s central sustainability initiatives aimed at contributing to reduction of antibiotic resistance.
What are your views on MetaboGen and TwoPac?
BioGaia owns 36 percent of MetaboGen and I’m Board Chairman there. It’s an enormously interesting company that is active in the microbiome area, where they analyze the entire intestinal microflora of healthy people and compare it to that in individuals with various clinical conditions. The idea is then to be able to correct the microflora as a means for curing or preventing disease. You could say that this is the next generation of probiotics, and we want to play an active role in learning and understanding what is happening in this tremendously hot field of research.
TwoPac is a wholly owned subsidiary of BioGaia and manufactures a large share of BioGaia’s volume product, the drops, now also in a new package called “Easy Dropper” that has been very well received by the market. TwoPac has GMP status, meaning that it is approved for manufacturing of medicinal products, and a state-of-the-art facility where we also develop new unique and user-friendly packages. Peter Persson, who is President of TwoPac, and his team are doing a fantastic job and I see TwoPac as a strategic asset and a strong contributor to BioGaia’s success. Furthermore, we are currently gathering all laboratory operations at TwoPac’s excellent facilities in Eslöv.
Tell us more about your initiatives related to antibiotic resistance.
Jan Annwall and I founded BioGaia 27 years ago with an ambition to replace antibiotics in animal feed, so this has been a central issue for us for many years. Now we are working very actively with politicians and other decision-makers to step up efforts when it comes to preventing infections that would otherwise have required antibiotics, and would therefore increase the risk for antibiotic resistance.
But what are you doing in more concrete terms?
We are taking part in the debate through articles and participation in TV programs and podcasts, and we are in discussions with both county councils and members of the Swedish Parliament. In fact, we have been invited to hold a seminar in Parliament. Parallel to this, we are developing a product line that we believe will help to strengthen the immune defence and thereby prevent infections that would otherwise require treatment with antibiotics.
What is happening in BioGaia’s long-term research and development?
It’s critical for us to plan far ahead, since it takes several years to develop new products. Here, I try to help prioritize when it comes to research projects and in efforts to find replacements for our existing products. This kind of work demands both experience and a lot of creativity, and I think that we are making real progress and have opportunities to break into new areas while at the same time defending our existing positions. I also try to support BioGaia’s business development outside the core area, and we have some exciting projects in the works.
Can you tell us more about these?
No, not yet.
And finally, how does it feel not to be President anymore?
It actually feels good, since we’ve found such an out- standing successor. I’m confident that the company is being managed in the best possible way. But, of course, things are very different today than when I was in the middle of things. One major advantage now is that I have a little more time to devote to my new sport, horseback riding.