CordSavings believes that for stem cell biobanks, bigger is not better
CordSavings is doubtless the only biobank that does not want to grow at any cost. We are voluntarily limiting our capacity, although we do have laboratory expansion capabilities that would allow us to compete with today's largest biobanks in one of the most secure and beautiful regions on the planet. We don't chase after customers, they come through their own initiative because they are looking for a fully bespoke experience and genuine, tangible handling of their very real concerns at this very special time when their baby is born.
Didier Nouziès, the CEO of CordSavings, is a bio-mathematician. “I have worked in biotechnology for fifteen years. I have first-hand experience of illness in my family. It was this that drove me to launch CordSavings.” As Jeanne Nicolas, the Director of the Monthey laboratory, puts it, “the processing and storage of these biological materials is a profession based on intimacy and inexhaustible passion. Our activity is absolutely not suited to corporate giants. Although we have customers worldwide because of our good reputation and word of mouth, we do not advertise. Parents come to us spontaneously and then come back unfailingly for each subsequent child. Simply because they feel at ease with us and totally trust us.”
Excessive corporate growth of some family Cord Blood Banks
Our other core mission is to make parents understand that in our business, the only operators really worthy of the name are those who have their own laboratory. The other players are ultimately only sales companies, intermediaries who obviously cannot be credible in an activity as advanced as ours, regardless of the marketing resources deployed to try to differentiate themselves. Basically it is extremely simple: it is just not possible to master the subtleties of an activity as vast, complex and technical as ours if you don't practice the true core business every day, i.e. the daily, actual manipulation of stem cells in a specialised laboratory.
Taking this prerequisite even further, at CordSavings, we even ensure that all of our employees in a sales relationship with end-customers have the professional skills to biologically handle the stem cell samples of the parents for whom they are responsible from A to Z! Clearly, they are all also qualified laboratory operators. And at end of the day of course, this makes a huge difference.
The behemoths of the profession, who often add layers of middle-men and other sales agents, are incapable of doing the same. We are now living in an era where, increasingly, the share of the price paid by parents for family stem cell services going exclusively to the middle-man is more than the share going to the laboratory for all the work carried out at the biological and medical technology level! This is just plain wrong.
At CordSavings, we have already been approached by intermediaries of large foreign companies (outside Switzerland, let us be clear) for the full range of lab work on a sample (collection, transport, treatment, analysis, isolation and cryo-storage for 25 years, which means hours of work and then years of service) wanting to pay far less than what they themselves receive for ten minutes or so of verbal interaction and sales work. Clearly the tail is wagging the dog! So, parents: Watch out for that! Again, check who you are dealing with, and ensure you are in contact with real laboratory biobanks.
The collapse of Cryo-Save
Cryo-Save was the largest European cord blood bank, before its high-profile bankruptcy in September 2019. The two companies CSG-BIO and PBKM-Famicord are currently battling in the courts for access to Cryo-Save clients. CordSavings is in fact the only laboratory in the world already handling and storing stem cells for both CSG-BIO and PBKM-Famicord. On the strength of its reputation for excellence within professional healthcare circles, CordSavings was contacted by CSG-BIO, a European subsidiary of the California-based US investment group Myrisoph, to potentially house the thousands of stem cell samples from Cryo-Save that are currently in storage in Poland.
The impact of COVID-19 on private biobanks
The facts speak for themselves: the setbacks in our business are for the most part all linked to large factory companies which very quickly fall prey to irreversible difficulties in the event of a downturn in the economy or a global disaster, as we are experiencing today with the sudden and brutal outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This COVID-19 crisis will undoubtedly reshuffle the deck for the profession by highlighting what is essential, namely actual laboratory know-how and consideration of the specifics of each family. At such a grave time, it's inevitable that the excessive and incoherent sector marketing that has left families in confusion with its unreasonable promotions should be marginalised.
So, now more than ever, at a time when this pandemic is still hitting and impacting the whole planet, you as parents who are convinced that the banking of umbilical cord stem cells offers a genuine benefit and security for your children and your family, you must beware of companies that are forever grandstanding about their large size and the hundreds of thousands of samples they store. Be particularly wary of those players who offer you discounts no matter what; if you can, ask to visit the laboratories; ask questions about the biological treatment technologies used; do not hesitate to ask your contact person about advances in research and ongoing clinical trials, etc. etc.
Banking on the future with CordSavings
Once lessons have been learned from the pandemic, we will need to thoroughly scrutinise and rebuild impacted health systems and ultimately transform this immense global crisis into a unique opportunity to reflect together on the choices we want to make for healthcare companies. We will face a future in which neonatal stem cells will undoubtedly (and already do) play a core role. It will consequently be a matter of deploying the best possible know-how to constantly fight off the onslaughts of major disease, that ever-threatening great unknown.
As for which actors can most ably accomplish this, Darwinian evolution has shown that becoming too big quickly becomes a handicap and the biggest beasts inevitably disappear first. When the dinosaurs became extinct, the first mammals already existed, nestled in tiny dens, just a few centimetres in size, and then look what happened...
CordSavings is actively evolving, nestled in the heart of its beautiful Alpine mountain range.
Founder of CordSavings