Author Archives: Caroline - CEO at Amici

  1. Supporting the Biotech Sector Throughout COVID-19 Lockdown

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    As January heralded a new year and another opportunity to drive our business goals, forefront in our mind was Brexit and ensuring our customers were ready for any eventuality. With a few dummy runs in 2019, our Brexit Task Force and customers were old hands at laying down stocks for a potential supply chain crisis…

    …and then came COVID-19! Initially, we advised customers to lay down prudent stocks, trying to predict what might become short supply as well as upping our game on office hygiene. By March, the threat was intensifying and as a company that specialises in cloud software, we were in a good position to move early and encourage everyone to work from home. Desks, chairs, and monitors were all transported and our team of just under 50 settled into a new way of working.

    The Call of Duty.

    Our primary concern was how to continue to support our customers and provide the best supply chain advice in unchartered territory. We were ready to step up and do whatever we could do to help during this global pandemic and delighted with the rush of our customer base also feeling the same call of duty.

    The PPE Challenge.

    The pandemic has seen countries worldwide shorthanded on PPE and cleaning materials, the very same materials which are essential to laboratory work and GMP manufacturing. The Amici COVID-19 Task Force reached out very early to our supply base. There have been many challenges obtaining PPE and cleaning materials, but our supply base could not have been more helpful in trying to support our customers and having very open conversations over what is and isn’t possible to allow us to pivot to other options quickly. We’ve had to learn more than ever about the technical attributes of PPE and cleaning materials in order to suggest acceptable substitutes from masks and respirators to alcohol cleaning products to the thickness and suitability of one type of nitrile glove to another.

    The Amici Order Management Team has been extraordinarily busy – not only with a high percentage of orders not being available, but having to cancel orders, put deliveries on hold and setting up new supply routes. We have used the Amici software to the maximum to understand ordering roadblocks, forecast demand, materials short fall planning and inventory management.

    COVID-19 Testing at Alderley Park.

    We have been proud to support COVID-19 Testing, being onsite to help set up the supply chain for the Lighthouse Test Centre at Alderley Park.

    “Establishing the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab to advance the UK’s COVID-19 diagnostic capacity and reaching one million patient samples over 4 months was greatly helped by the support from Amici. Their assistance got us over several ravines of risk in this programme.”
    Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer at Medicines Discovery Catapult

    Medicines Discovery Catapult Recognises Amici’s Efforts.

    We were absolutely delighted when Medicines Discovery Catapult sent commemorative coins in recognition of our support in setting up the labs. Another proud moment for all involved at Amici.

    Amici staff receive commemorative coin from Medicines Discovery Catapult in recognition of our support during COVID-19 testing.

    Amici staff receive commemorative coin from Medicines Discovery Catapult in recognition of our support during COVID-19 testing. Top row L-R: Stefanie Christou, David McCabe, Jennifer Ferguson. Bottom row L-R: Katie McKay, Alison Walton, Ryan Morrison. Middle: Caroline Briggs.

    Supporting our Customers and Their Life Changing Work.

    We have been overwhelmed by the aggregation of our industry and how people and companies have dropped what they are doing to help this national effort. We’ve also had customers who have

    COVID-19 - BBC News article: Oxford vaccine triggers immune response.

    COVID-19 – BBC News article: Oxford vaccine triggers immune response.

    developed in-vitro lung assays for modelling COVID-19, customers who have developed SARS-COV-2 antibodies and antigens and customers who have supported the COVID-19 effort through seconding their experienced staff to several important national initiatives.

    Meanwhile, important life changing clinical trials have still been going on and a large portion of our customers have remained open throughout to deliver this work. We are extraordinarily proud to be supporting our customers and their life changing work. It has been really hard work, there have been untold supply chain challenges and there is so much more to do yet. At Amici we love the opportunity, and a challenge is always a new learning experience.

    “We’ve worked with Amici to gain their support and expertise on procurement and inventory management which has made a huge difference to Cobra, saving us many hours that we couldn’t afford to lose at this crucial time. When we started working on the Covid Vaccine, I knew I wanted Amici on the team.”
    Nick Smith, Associate Director of Operations at Cobra Biologics

    We wish all our customers every success in their endeavour and promise to stand by their side to support them in any way we can.


    Find out more about how Amici can support your lab, from procurement through to materials management.


    Take a look at our latest vacancies here.

  2. Professional Procurement – Understanding Your Business Needs

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    It’s widely reported that around 80% of buying decisions are emotional and 20% based on logic. Certainly, personal buying decisions would fit with this statistic, but you’d be surprised how many business buying decisions are also emotional or hurried and could not be attributed to solid logic! Not only that, but we are all susceptible to marketing and sales influences. A true purchasing professional will facilitate you through a process to improve your choices.

    Slow it down – and start with your Business Needs.

    Start by Understanding Your Business

    All professionals need to understand the business they are working for before making decisions. Are you a new start up or mature organisation? Do you have budgets for the investment? How does this purchase impact the success and priorities of the business? What are the priorities of the business; bottom-line profit, competitive advantage or time to market? There are then a series of questions you need to understand before you start;

    1. Do you need to buy this item at all or now? Do you have other options such as outsourcing a service?
    2. What are the risks of making this purchase now versus the risks of not buying, or buying later?
    3. Do you have the budget for only a short-term fix or is it appropriate to invest in a long-term solution?
    4. Who do you need to consult with in any potential purchase? Often there will be a finance element, user element, or an IT, HSE and quality element to the decision.

    What Do You Want?

    Some small consumable buying decisions should be made quickly as it is not worth the time investment. However, where your organisation is about to make an investment or a change in how things are done, it is critical to understand what you want before you start, and build a solid business case.

    1. Start by summarising the situation. What is the problem you are trying to resolve? What do you know, what do you not know? If your list gets too long, you need to summarise into a couple of bullet point conclusions.
    2. Start with the end in mind. What is the goal, target, vision? When must you have this in place? Challenge yourself of what is critical and what is ideal, and what is just a wish list. Summarise to a single phrase and keep this in mind at all points in the process.
    3. What are the business needs for this purchase? Most purchases need to consider the following criteria;
      1. Assurance of Supply. How do you ensure you have the purchase when your business needs it? That could be a single delivery, or it could be a consideration of ongoing access. How quickly can the purchase be delivered or implemented? How critical is the purchase to your business success? There may also be contingencies to consider regarding ongoing demand such as guaranteed stocks or availability. The item you are buying might also need to be compatible with other infrastructure at your company.
      2. Quality/Regulatory. In your environment, what are the true requirements? You’ll want to challenge the requirements to ensure you are neither too unnecessarily tight nor fail to buy to the right spec. Quality and Regulatory is not just about GMP or legislation. It could be the lifespan of an item or reliability which might make a better investment. It could be an investor or financial markets requirement. You might need an item to be manufactured to accredited GMP standards, maybe also validated.
      3. Service. What support are you going to need in order to take full advantage of the purchase? Will you need training, implementation support, will users not involved in the purchase need ongoing support? What kind of turnaround on support do you need? What experiences have you had in the past which might help shape your decision? Do you need 24/7 support (which might be very costly), is a manual enough or something in between?
      4. Price and total cost of ownership. All purchasing professionals care about price, but the ultimate skill is to evaluate the value and total cost of ownership to your business situation at this time. Once the minimum criteria are met, then it’s time to concentrate on price. Costs of associated consumables, software licences, maintenance and upgrade charges may be more than the initial purchase! What might the hidden costs be? Consider footprint, practicalities of delivery and even related salary costs. Some purchases may even reduce your need for additional planned purchases or headcount – reducing the total cost of ownership accordingly!
      5. Innovation. It is really important to consider innovation with some purchases and not at all with others! This is something you need to evaluate for each purchase. For example, buying new technologies that keep innovating can expand the options of your purchase or lead to supplier partnerships.

    Professional Procurement - Understanding Your Business Needs


    What Do You NEED?

    In making your list of wants, it can be helpful not to place too many restrictions on yourself. The difficult job is to take that list and evaluate what you truly need vs would ideally like vs nice to have. You might consider using the words must (critical), should (desirable) and wish list as helpful headers. Make sure the Critical criteria are truly deal breakers. What is an ideal and what is a wish list? Once you’ve fully understood your business need, you should think about drafting a User Requirement Specification (URS) and how you will make your decisions.


    If you’d like Amici to guide you through an evaluation of your business needs, please get in touch.






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    Introduction: This blog has been written following a presentation that Caroline (Amici’s CEO) delivered at the West of Scotland Science Park titled, ‘Women in Leadership’. The presentation will be broken down in to a series of blog posts

    Women In Leadership



    People who know me, know that I get great pleasure from helping other people. I hope this series of blogs which Carly, our Marketing Manager, is bullying* me into writing, provokes some thoughts and gives an insight into some of my experiences. Before we launch into what I’ve learned, the first post in my Women In Leadership blog series is the story of my journey to Amici…

    At school I was absolutely mad about being a Forensic Scientist. I wanted to solve crime and make the world a better place! I couldn’t wait to get to Strathclyde University in Glasgow where I studied Forensic and Analytical Chemistry. The degree required a sandwich year, which I spent at Abbott Laboratories doing stability trials of a phase III HIV medication using HPLC and GC testing. It was important work back in 1995 – patients were literally breaking down the gates to get early access to these new medicines.

    Women In LeadershipI didn’t really understand myself at 21, but I did know that this kind of job didn’t necessarily suit my personality. I’m quite gregarious and outgoing and I wanted a more people-based role.

    As a result, I tried out for the Police, and they may have detected something in my personality when they asked me how I would react if I was given an order I didn’t agree with…hmm… So I decided that it was the pharmaceutical industry for me!

    I was really fortunate to get a place on Zeneca’s (now AstraZeneca) Graduate Programme and I’m still grateful to this day for the investment in training and opportunity they gave me. Zeneca believed in giving people a job a bit outside of their comfort zone and provided support to fast-track learning. I believe the philosophy is an excellent one and I try to replicate this at Amici.

    If you want to reach your full potential, you need to carry on learning, every day, forever. It’s got to be healthy for the brain – surely!

    At Zeneca I had cut my teeth with Business Development and Operations Management. I thought the job was really very sexy; flying all over the world, going to conferences and chatting to people. As part of a development review I was encouraged to try purchasing. I didn’t think this would be as exciting a job and was pretty dismissive. However, my best friend lived in London and worked for SmithKline Beecham. She highlighted a job in purchasing at SB and persuaded me to apply, offering to split the £500 Find A Friend bonus with me! I landed the job and she gave me the £250. It was only later that I realised she would have been taxed on the whole bonus and would have been lucky to have £100 in hand! Oops!

    I’ve always been incredibly good with money management and through my new procurement role I realised that I’m good at taking care of the company’s money too. Clearly, I had found my calling! I’ve spent my life weighing up ‘value’ in order to make decisions. My bolshie nature has proved to be a great fit for a purchasing person and I’ve had a great career path from it.

    SmithKline Beecham became GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK, in the days where it was joked that you needed to stick the company logo on with Velcro it changed so often! GSK provided many different opportunities and a different environment. I thrived on the challenges and I flew all over the world looking at low cost sourcing, site procurement and global category procurement. SB and GSK were at the forefront of the procurement revolution, moving the profession from a tactical role to a truly strategic, highly valued one. They offered lots of training and consultancy support. There were templates and processes for everything. Yet equally, I was completely empowered to undertake global multi-million pound deals. It was a fantastic learning environment for me so early on in my career.

    But there came a point when I wanted to test myself. I didn’t want to follow the template anymore. I wanted to make my own ways of working, tailored to the situation. It was time to try a different environment and a great opportunity came up for me, back in Glasgow, at Invitrogen (now Life Technologies).

    The procurement revolution hadn’t quite hit there yet. I had the enthusiasm, the confidence and some of the skills to shake it up. The missing skills I had to learn on the job. It felt like a blank canvas and I threw myself and my team into strategic global procurement. We launched procurement to the company, running campaigns and training courses to get people to negotiate and think about value. We ran supplier days focused on improving supplier performance, saving money and helping them to understand the needs of the company. The results were great. I really enjoyed my time there, but it was time for me to spread my wings. I’d moved house for jobs a few times and wanted to stay living where I was, in Glasgow. It was time to set up my own company…


    Women In Leadership


    Aged 29, and probably with more confidence than skill, but with a lot of good experience and some naivety thrown in, Amici Procurement Solutions Limited was born! I never imagined it would be what it has become today! I didn’t have a credible long-term plan – does anybody?! To start with, I was going to be a one-woman band, providing training and consultancy for biotech companies. However, I soon realised that this was a hard gig and wasn’t a great business model either. I had a flash of inspiration from my best friend’s dad and realised there was a better model to be had.

    14 years later, and with plenty of challenges along the way, the Amici team has reached 50-something lovely people who I would class as my friends, as well as fantastic colleagues. We provide digital procurement, inventory and operational management solutions to inspirational biotech companies in the UK and the US.

    I love this industry. Everyone has a real sense of purpose, drive, challenge and a great positive culture. Operational processes are something I care passionately about. I embrace LEAN and continuous improvement daily, from helping customers, to designing new software, to providing a sounding board for a colleague’s development.

    Talking of continuous improvement, the biggest job has been my own development. The challenges of an entrepreneurial company are ever changing. As the company grows, my role changes too. As they say, do a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. For me that is true (most days anyway!).





    *Note from Carly : Encouraging