Aequor redefines what ‘supply chain’ means during crisisBack
As a small biotech company, Aequor needs a reliable supply of chemicals and supplies. They lease lab space in an incubator setting. And in that lab, they develop custom product formulations for buyers seeking remedies for antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacterial and fungal contamination, infection, and disease.
Pre-pandemic, Aequor management went to great lengths to lock in several suppliers for each of the items needed and made sure that products were ordered well in advance in order to fulfill contracts and meet deadlines. On that front, Aequor encountered minimal disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. What Aequor could not plan for was the following:
First, the incubator was shut down for several months during the height of the pandemic and before vaccines were available. Aequor notified the post office to direct mail to an alternative address and notify vendors to deliver to other locations where chemicals could be delivered. When the incubator reopened, the landlord periodically closed it again if one of the residents had been exposed to COVID-19. From this experience, lab space became part of Aequor’s “supply chain.”
Second, the company had to locate services that could provide the equipment that the company did not have access to in the incubator during the shut-down. But these service providers were also shut down. Aequor’s part-time lab employees left for other jobs. From this experience, specialized service providers became part of Aequor’s “supply chain.”
Third, Aequor had no way of knowing the extent of disruption that its customers were encountering. When their operations closed down, Aequor’s pilot projects and payments stopped. Aequor was now dependent on the supply chains, pandemic safety policies, and personnel availability of its buyers and pilot project partners. From this experience, Aequor’s customers’ suppliers and policies became part of its “supply chain.”
Fourth, with the cancellation of live conferences and networking opportunities, which are the marketing tools of many small companies, Aequor’s ability to supplement lost orders and find new buyers was no longer possible. From this experience, marketing opportunities became part of Aequor’s “supply chain.”
Finally, while many businesses closed down, some did not and several critical deadlines were not extended — namely deadlines for filing and prosecuting patents. The COVID-19 shut down coincided with two of Aequor’s five patents entering the national stage in the U.S., EU and Canada. This stage occurred 18 months after Aequor had filed patents on its discovery of 30 novel chemical compounds’ composition of matter and methods of use, and on 40 synthesized analogs’ methods of use. The cost of patent attorney expenses for the national stage patents and the others that Aequor had filed has averaged $6,000 per month since March 2020. If Aequor loses its IP, it loses its assets.
The bottom line for Aequor is that the term “supply chain” was broadened to include the supply of both goods and services, lab space, marketing opportunities and personnel along the chain to maintain the flow. It also meant planning for another very rainy day of needing runway funding for at least one year in the event of another calamity like COVID-19.
From Aequor’s work developing cures for the bacterial and fungal biofilm, including that formed by the AMR Superbugs that cannot be killed by any known antibiotic or disinfectant, Aequor knows that a bacterial or fungal pandemic will be far more difficult to contain than a viral pandemic. Masks, hand sanitizers, and distancing are not enough to stop the spread of AMR bacteria and fungi or their biofilm, which spread in air, water, food, soil, contact surfaces, etc. Companies need to keep this in mind when assessing their enterprise risks and costing out mitigation methods.
Marilyn Bruno, CEO – email@example.com