Leading biomedical company AMSBIO opens new European facility in Alkmaar

"Science, innovation and trade are in the DNA of the Dutch."


Leading biomedical company opens new European facility in Alkmaar, the Netherlands

In 1896, some adventurers found gold on the west coast of America. It was the start of a gold rush that drew tens of thousands of fortune hunters to the region. To successfully find the top prize, they depended on suppliers of tools and building materials. “And that’s exactly the role AMSBIO plays for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in the present day”, explains director Alex Sim. ”We provide the tools that allow manufacturers’ research to produce results faster, allow them to get approval for their drugs faster or discover new types of drugs faster.”

The Scotsman founded AMS Biotechnology (AMSBIO) together with partners in 1987: “That was right at the beginning of the ‘genetic revolution’. Researchers worldwide had set themselves the goal of imaging the complete structure of human DNA. Many of our customers contributed to that. In 2003, that project was completed. Researchers can now map more DNA sequences in twenty minutes than was possible in ten years at the time. With this knowledge, doctors can see, for example, what predisposition a patient has for certain diseases and tailor their treatments precisely to his or her individual genetic makeup. This precision medicine is one of the main drivers of our work. Others include regenerative medicine, stem cell research and vaccines.”

Cultured meat

“Not only the medical industry benefits from AMBSIO’s services”, Alex continues. “We also provide advanced products and services for the food industry. Our technology is used for the development of cultured meat in the sustainable meat industry. This involves taking stem cells from a living animal to produce hamburgers or steaks, which is much more animal-friendly and better for the environment. The Netherlands is leading the way in this field, so that’s interesting for us.”


AMSBIO’s products are used all over the world, from North America, Australia and Asia to Europe. Consequently, there are several international branches. The European market was served from the office in England until the end of last year, “but Brexit put a spanner in the works”, Alex mentiones. ,,Our products have to be kept under specific conditions during transport. For example, some shipments are transported in dry ice or liquid nitrogen at a temperature of minus 190 degrees. Because of Brexit, the formalities at the border have become much more time-consuming. So we could no longer guarantee the transport conditions en route and therefore could not deliver the best quality products to our European customers.”

Highly regarded

So it was decided to look for a location on the continent’s mainland. AMSBIO’s eye fell on the Netherlands. ”It’s centrally located and we already work for several customers in Leiden, Utrecht and Amsterdam, including the Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Hospital and the Hubrecht Institute at the UMC. Another plus is that the European Medicines Agency, the EMA, preceded us two years ago with a move from London to Amsterdam. Moreover, the Netherlands is highly regarded internationally in the field of life sciences & health. Science, innovation and trade are in the DNA of the Dutch.”

Orange carpet

In the search for a good location, AMSBIO was supported by Development Agency Noord-Holland Noord and the Invest in Holland network, which specifically focusses on life sciences, among other sectors. “They helped us a lot and they still do. We were looking for a place with room to expand. They showed us various possibilities in the region. Ultimately, we chose for business center ‘the Ondernemerstuin’ at businesspark ‘Beverkoog’, city of Alkmaar. There are more innovative food and health related companies established  in this multi-company building. Alkmaar is easily accessible, e.g. just over 30 min. from Amsterdam and this is a place from which we can easily build further on our European business. Regional Development Agency Noord-Holland Noord(NHN) has laid out the orange carpet for us, as they say. They not only helped us with concluding the lease, but also with things like opening a bank account and making connections with various people, such as customs and a logistics company that can transport refrigerated products.”

European growth

Branch manager in Alkmaar will be Francesca Pignotta. She already moved to Alkmaar, also dubbed as ‘cheese city’, a year and a half ago. With her Italian background and Dutch boyfriend, it was also easier for her to live on the mainland of Europe instead of in England. “I could just keep working remotely for AMSBIO. Here in the Netherlands I am responsible for sales and logistics. We collect the orders in Alkmaar and prepare the orders according to the specific compositions which our customers need. We start our new location here with three colleagues, but we hope to hire more people this year. AMSBIO has been growing rapidly in recent years and Alkmaar will lead the European growth. For example, we want to expand our product range for more European customers. In Scotland we have set up a screening company for cancer drugs, ScreenIn3D. Perhaps we will build such a similar facility here in the Netherlands. But that’s something for the future.”

Regional collaboration

The choice for the Netherlands seems to have worked out immediately, Francesca observes. ,,As of January we started delivering to our European customers from Alkmaar. Since then, our deliveries no longer have any delays. Our customers are satisfied. It is our intention to seek cooperation with companies in the region in the coming months. We want to start participating in network meetings and get to know entrepreneurs. We are always looking for opportunities. For example, we also want to start cooperating with hospitals that want to test our products and with students who can do research for us. There are a lot of opportunities here.”


Life science & health

Life science & health

Noord-Holland Noord has a strong Life Science & Health sector. Every day, 30,000 patients worldwide are helped with medical isotopes from Noord-Holland Noord.