Nov 24, 2020 Robert Fenton

5 Amazing Startup Pharmaceutical Companies to Watch in 2021

Growing a pharmaceutical startup is hard work. But it can get slightly easier when you model your growth path after the pharmaceutical companies that have come before you.

It only takes one ground-breaking pharmaceutical development to change a product category forever. For example, TagBox recently developed a supply chain visibility platform for pharmaceutical manufacturers. Now, using real-time temperature monitoring and artificial intelligence, pharmaceutical manufacturers can track and trace products based on temperature regulations and other transport-related quality parameters. This allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to improve overall supply chain effectiveness and efficiency.

Keeping an eye on new players in the pharmaceutical industry can help position your own company for rapid and sustained success.

Take a look at this list of startup pharmaceutical companies and get the inspiration needed to take your company to the next level this year.

The Top 5 Startup Pharmaceutical Companies to Watch in 2021

The most successful startup pharmaceutical companies share a few common characteristics.

According to McKinsey, the very best startup pharmaceutical companies provide superior experiences to all stakeholders, including patients, caregivers, and clinicians. Additionally, these pharmaceutical companies "reimagine processes to dramatically reduce costs and accelerate decision making."

To jumpstart pharmaceutical startup growth, companies need to unlock major velocity in the early stages to provide proof-of-concept, secure funding, and demonstrate clinical safety for regulatory approval.

There is no room for mistakes during early growth. For this reason, many leading pharmaceutical startup companies choose to partner with Qualio.

Qualio offers quality management software for the life sciences ecosystem. It unites a company's team, processes, and data so you can bring products to market quickly and scale successfully. Additionally, the software encourages teams to move away from paper-based strategies and processes, which are wasteful, inefficient, and error-prone.


IRISYS provides contract pharmaceutical product development and manufacturing services, specializing in formulation R&D and GMP manufacturing of clinical trial materials and specialty pharmaceutical products. The company also offers strategic consulting related to drug development.

Recently, IRISYS announced plans to extend GMP manufacturing of sterile drug products for clinical and commercial supply.

"As of the first quarter 2021, IRISYS is adding a technologically advanced commercial injectable vial filling and lyophilization system built by SP Industries," explains CEO Robert Giannini. "We are now able to take orders for automated sterile GMP filling of 2 mL up to 50 mL vials. We also will have capacity to lyophilize that entire range of vial sizes, including up to 7,500 x 10R vials per batch."

Lyophilization is the process in which water is removed from a product after it is frozen and placed under a vacuum, allowing the ice to change directly from a solid to a vapor without passing through a liquid phase. In most cases, products can be lyophilized directly in vials or trays.

"Pharmaceutical companies found lyophilization increased shelf-life and stability of their drugs," Giannini says.

RELATED READING: 12 Questions to Ask Before You Buy an eQMS

2. Alphazyme

Alphazyme was founded in 2018 by Christopher Benoit, an expert in the field of enzyme development and production. Alphazyme's experienced team has a track record of success and a passion for supporting molecular biology innovators.

To expedite business growth, Alpazyme partnered with Qualio.

Right after Stephana Petrino was hired as Vice President of Quality at Alphazyme, she was tasked with finding an eQMS that met the unique requirements of the business. Because the company needed to operate with increased agility, the system needed to be flexible. After analyzing a handful of solutions, Alphazyme decided to build its quality system using Qualio.

"We needed something that was easy to use, easy to train, and easy to get up and running," Patrino says. "Qualio has surpassed our expectations around that."

RELATED READING: Alphazyme Uses Qualio to Produce Molecular Enzymes at Scale for Biotech Companies

3. Roivant Sciences

Roivant Sciences develops transformative medicines by building technologies and developing talent. The company offers a diverse pipeline of investigational drugs across an array of therapeutic areas. Moreover, Roivant Sciences leverages and develops nimble and focused biopharmaceutical and health technology companies, including Immunovant, Demavant, Datavant, Aruvant, and others.

Immunovant's investigational product candidate, IMVT-1401 (formerly known as RVT-1401), is a novel, fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRN). This product has the potential to address lgG-mediated autoimmune diseases as an injection.

RELATED READING: 5 Notorious Compliance Issues in the Pharmaceutical Industry (and How to Avoid Them)

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4. Relay Therapeutics

Relay Therapeutics is a clinical-stage precision medicine company. This five-year-old biotech startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts has raised nearly $1 billion in funding. Recently, the company pulled back the curtain on the first three drugs under development—each of which targets a type of cancer. A Phase 1 trial for one aimed at a protein called SHP2 began in January 2020.

Moreover, Relay Therapeutics recently announced the dosing of the first patient in the first-in-human clinical trial of RLY-4008, a highly selective FGFR2.

“We are excited to bring RLY-4008, our second targeted therapeutic, into clinical development,” explains Don Bergstrom, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president of R&D of Relay Therapeutics. “FGFR2 altered tumors are known to respond clinically to pan-FGFR inhibitors but with limited benefit to patients. RLY-4008 is an exquisitely selective and purpose-built medicine, discovered with our Dynamo platform, designed to dramatically alter the course of disease for patients with FGFR2 altered cancers.”

5. Recursion Pharmaceuticals

Recursion Pharmaceuticals is reengineering drug discovery through digital biology. The startup is discovering new and transformative treatments by combining automation, machine learning, and more.

Recently, the company raised $239 million and partnered with Bayer for drug discovery facilitated through artificial intelligence.

"Recursion is our big bet in terms of digital drug discovery, "explains Huergen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer. "We chose to partner with Recursion as we saw them as the company with the best chance to deliver medicines that could be meaningful to patients as quickly as possible."

Master Quality Management with Qualio

The startup pharmaceutical companies on this list began by recognizing a real problem and analyzing available treatment options. Today, machine learning, mobile, and cloud technologies promise to revolutionize major pharmaceutical treatments, diagnostics, and developments.

To keep pace with major technological advancements, pharmaceutical companies must invest in robust quality management software. The right quality management system can add significant value to your organization's quality processes.

As an industry-leading quality management provider, Qualio is the best eQMS for growing life science organizations.

We recommend downloading our free buyer's guide, 12 Questions to Ask Before You Buy an eQMS, to get a better idea of how an eQMS might impact your organization. Consult this helpful guide before wasting valuable time, energy, and capital on the wrong solution.

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Published by Robert Fenton November 24, 2020