As genetic technologies unlock new possibilities, companies like VectorBuilder aim to navigate progress responsibly, guided by a strong moral compass. “Ethics to me is the one thing that really is so, so important,” said Kristofer Mussar, managing director of VectorBuilder GmbH. “I have such a high ethical threshold I make decisions that are sometimes not the best business decisions, but they are the right ethical decisions.”
VectorBuilder offers an array of products and services, including vector design, vector cloning, plasmid DNA preparation, AAV capsid evolution, mRNA gene delivery systems, and CDMO services. Its international customer base includes thousands of labs and biotech/pharma companies.
In business practices, especially in a field such as gene delivery, ethics are tantamount. “If you have very strong ethics, that means you have trust,” he explained. “If everybody could just take that second to really approach every question ethically, the world would be just such a different place.”
Mussar credits the focus with helping retain both employees and customers “We’ve had hardly any turnover,” he said. In terms of the clients, VectorBuilder has a singular pricing strategy, which does not discriminate based on the geographical location of the clients. For instance, the same pricing is applied whether the clients are in countries like Egypt or Singapore. This non-discriminatory pricing policy stands out, especially when compared to other companies that vary their prices based on the economic status of different countries. “We think that this way of approaching business and science is the future — especially when you’re talking about dealing with genetic data and things that are very sensitive,” Mussar said.
Ethics provide grounding
The ethical focus also helps the company navigate the complexities of international business. “We do our manufacturing in China,” he said, referring to the stigma sometimes associated with worries related to data theft and reverse engineering there. “Again, I think you have to have really strong ethics because it’s unfair to stereotype. China is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of population. Of course, there are people doing that there, but there are people doing that in America and in every country.”
Mussar also touched upon the ethical implications of intellectual property, especially in the context of gene patenting.
VectorBuilder’s R&D philosophy
Decrying how politics can sometimes constrain independent science, Mussar notes how this can be a point of friction. “Scientists generally approach their work with an unbiased mindset, but in politics, everyone has an angle,” Mussar noted. Given that VectorBuilder has a team of highly qualified scientists, including Ph.D.-level professionals with expertise spanning fields such as biotechnology to genomics, the company understands the scientific mindset. This approach to unprejudiced scientific inquiry guides VectorBuilder’s approach to R&D. “We’re one of the few companies that you’ll talk to that doesn’t have an ulterior motive,” Mussar said. “We pride ourselves on continually producing innovative work and being flexible.” The company also emphasizes the importance of collaborative relationships in advancing scientific research. “We see our clients as collaborators,” Mussar added.
Further, he emphasized the importance of prioritizing ethics over profits. “At the end of the day, we’ll always sacrifice profits to do the right thing,” Mussar said.
Lastly, Mussar advocated for balancing business growth with ethical practices. “Why can’t there be a happy medium where you’re still able to grow and take care of your employees and build this ecosystem… but also continue to help people and push research forward,” he added.
Filed Under: Cell & gene therapy