Simcro broadens specialty equipment scope out of Kansas City incubator

Since establishing a presence in the Kansas City area, Simcro has continued to quietly work alongside some of the biggest names in animal health. Animal Pharm analyst Sian Lazell spoke to president of Simcro North America Andrew Shepherd about how the firm had been steadily growing its business from the Bioscience & Technology Business Center (BTBC) in the region’s animal health corridor.

Simcro’s portfolio consists of injectors, topical applicators, oral applicators and specialty packaging, all designed and developed by the firm. Whilst some of these products are made available on the wider market, the company has also been working to establish itself as somewhat of a ‘right hand man’ to a number of animal health’s biggest players, by finding bespoke solutions to their needs.

“In relative terms, we’re a small company and we like to work closely with our innovation partners, which include a number of the leading animal health companies, on the development of new products,” said Simcro’s president for North America, Andrew Shepherd.

“We see ourselves as the world’s leading supplier of specialty packaging, delivery devices or application devices for the animal health market. We’ve got a dedicated R&D team in New Zealand that supports constant innovation with our product line and with customized developments and unique solutions for individual companies.”

Strong focus on animal health
In September last year, Simcro strengthened its distribution capabilities with the purchase of Australian firm NJ Phillips and fellow New Zealand business, ISL Animal Health. Mr Shepherd said subsequent to these acquisitions, Simcro also formed a strategic alliance with Agri-Pro enterprises in the US, for retail sales of products from the newly formed Simcro group.
Simcro’s Sekurus safety injector, developed in conjunction with Zoetis

However, with specialty equipment being able to cover such a broad range of sectors, why is Simcro focused so largely on animal health?

Mr Shepherd explained although the firm has developed products for human health, animal health is where its history is firmly rooted.

“Being based in New Zealand where there is a strong agricultural economy, some of our innovations were driven out of the desire of New Zealand farmers to do things better or in a different way,” explained Mr Shepherd.

“Within our board of directors and throughout the organization we have extensive experience in animal health. That’s our sweet spot and that’s what we do well. We have had other opportunities in human health but animal health is our focus. For us to maintain that focus and make sure that we remain leaders in that market is important.”

Historically, most of Simcro’s devices have been focused on livestock. However, Mr Shepherd told Animal Pharm: “We’re working on some companion animal developments as well.”

He said: “In a lot of cases, they are the same companies we’ve developed strong relationships with through other partnership developments. They recognize we’re a good provider of innovative solutions and have asked us to look at other delivery or packaging requirements in the companion animal sides of their business.”

Expansion and understanding global markets
Talking about the firm’s expansion in the long term, Mr Shepherd said Simcro is on the lookout for new opportunities.

“Part of our global expansion is leveraging from our strengths with innovative developments. We continue to look for unmet needs and opportunities. We’ve been a busy, growing organization and a lot of that growth has come from reacting to companies coming to us with development ideas or requests.

“We work with major animal health companies, both multinationals and strong regional companies, as well as start-ups. This has been an important aspect of our geographic expansion, to ensure we’ve got good representation in different markets.”

In regards to setting up at the BTBC, Mr Shepherd said: “We established the US office to expand our presence here and better serve one of our key markets. We’ve employed more people in the US but at the same time, as we were undertaking our expansion in the country we’ve also expanded our representation into Europe, Asia and Latin America.”

Generally, Mr Shepherd explained, sheep and cattle are still a big part of Simcro’s work, coming from New Zealand where the species are prominent. However, swine is also a key market for Simcro.

“Via our geographic expansion we want to gain a better understanding of product use in different markets and the differences in production systems,” he said.

Mr Shepherd added that in the US, Simcro has also been identifying opportunities for establishing manufacturing relationships, especially for its specialty packaging type products.

BTBC aided network growth
Kansas City’s BTBC is a collaborative initiative between the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the University of Kansas, and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, to support the bioscience and technology industries in north-eastern Kansas.

Commenting on Simcro’s location at the BTBC, Mr Shepherd said the incubator had been pivotal in fostering growth.

“Within this building there are other animal health companies and the opportunity for networking has been fantastic. Prior to moving up here, we worked closely with the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor team to identify potential office locations.

“What sold us on the BTBC was the way that the people here were as interested in us being a tenant, as they were in assisting us with ways that we could build our network and grow our business. In the early days, when it was just me prior to establishing a team, the business support services were valuable as well.

“The BTBC’s link with Kansas University also provides potential for future collaboration. It’s not something that we’re doing at the moment but it’s an obvious benefit of being in this location.”

Mr Shepherd concluded: “We’ve got the broadest range of products for delivering animal health products to animals, whether it be injectable, topical or oral administration.

“We haven’t got a particular weakness in any area but we’re always looking for opportunities or innovations to assist in strengthening our portfolio or our position in a particular market.

“We’re working on a number of different projects with a number of different animal health companies. It’s a case of watch this space.”