Mark Bamforth is a serial entrepreneur, having founded, built, and sold three companies. He is currently mentoring and investing in Scottish and US-based entrepreneurs and is a General Partner of the Kineticos Anti-microbial Resistance Accelerator (KAMRA) Fund I..
Bamforth founded Arranta Bio to build the best-in-class advanced therapeutics contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), in May 2019 with a focus on microbiome, plasmid and mRNA vaccines. Arranta was sold to Recipharm in April 2022.
Previously, Bamforth founded Brammer Bio, a best-in-class viral vector CDMO for cell and gene therapies. Brammer’s team grew from 110 in 2016 to over 600 in Florida and Massachusetts, at the time of its acquisition by Thermo Fisher Scientific in April 2019.
In 2010, Bamforth founded a biologics CDMO, Gallus BioPharmaceuticals, and acquired a world-class facility and team in St. Louis, MO, with a commercial supply agreement with Janssen. Gallus tripled through organic growth and merging with Laureate Biopharma. Gallus was sold to DPx Holdings B.V. in 2014.
Bamforth previously spent 22 years in the UK and USA at Genzyme Corp., latterly running the 12-site global manufacturing operation and a pharmaceutical CMO business and serving as a corporate officer for 9 years. He began his career as a petroleum engineer exploring North Sea oil with Britoil, then as a chemical engineer in the whisky industry with Whitbread. Bamforth serves on the boards of Continuus Pharma, Pneumagen, Enterobiotix, Inceptor Bio, and Entrepreneurial Scotland. He has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Strathclyde University and an MBA from Henley Management College.
- Where are you from in Scotland?
I was born and raised in Glasgow, attending Strathclyde University in Glasgow as a Chemical Engineering undergraduate.
- Can you share what event brought you to the U.S. and how long you have been here?
I worked for an MA-based company, Genzyme Corp., with two manufacturing sites near London, England for 12 years. After completing an MBA, I ended up running the UK operation. The next move that I was offered was to relocate with my family to MA. We jumped at the opportunity to expand our horizons and moved to the USA in 2000. I stayed with Genzyme for the next 10 years, running global operations before starting my own company, the first of three new ventures. Our children were 3 and 7 when we arrived in the US and they have completed their schooling here and launched successful careers. They still think of Scotland as “home” where most of their family are from and still live, and enjoy visiting them.
- What do you most miss about Scotland? Anything that you have not been able to replicate in the U.S.?
I mainly miss the people, the banter, some food, and the beautiful countryside (but not the weather) from Scotland. We stay connected to family, friends, and entrepreneurs in Scotland.We love spending time in the New Hampshire hills – it reminds us of parts of Scotland. It is hard to buy genuine haggis in the US for Burns’ night, Arbroath smokies, and a few other things, although the best of Scottish fare is available here.
- Could you expand on your current role and why you enjoy it?
I run a contract manufacturing business, supporting companies that are focused on the microbiome, which is related to infectious and inflammatory diseases of the gut, neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, and improved effectiveness of cancer treatments through improving the immune system, 70% of which is based on gut microbes. Recently we added mRNA vaccine capabilities to support companies developing products for infectious diseases and cancer treatments. That is my “day job”. I also sit on 5 Boards, including 3 Scottish companies, and I mentor and provide guidance to the entrepreneurial leaders who are building these companies.I am also a trustee for Entrepreneurial Scotland and support their programs through hosting undergraduates for internships in the US and meeting many aspiring leaders who are taking part in their programs.
- Did you choose New England or did it choose you?
New England chose me because this is where Genzyme was based. That being said, we love being here. This is probably the most European-feeling part of the US.
- Looking back in time, are there any decisions you made that in hindsight you now view as defining moments in your career?
I started my career in the North Sea, training to be a petroleum engineer. I was made redundant when the oil price crashed in the mid-1980s and my fledgling career was brought to a halt. This led me in time to the biotech sector which has been an amazing way to spend the last 35 years! Starting out to build my own business in 2010 was an incredible experience of dealing with challenges and obstacles and ultimately the fulfillment of building something worthwhile with an amazing team of people.
- What one piece of advice would you give to entrepreneurs in Scotland contemplating establishing a business in New England?
It can be easy to assume that many business practices are similar because the language is the same, more or less. It is key to get local advice on the legal structure, building organizations, organizing healthcare, finding funding, etc. from people on the ground who have done this before. Of course, it is imperative to start with a great idea that is solving a need that others have.
- What message would you give to New England entrepreneurs thinking of expanding into Europe?
The reverse is true – moving or expanding in Europe requires local knowledge. Scotland is a great place to look for a well-educated, stable workforce with a strong social infrastructure and a deep talent pool of entrepreneurs who want to make an impact on society.