Interview Peter Pohl, CEO and Founder

Peter Pohl, CEO and Founder GATC Biotech

1. What is GATC Biotech? 

Founded in 1990, GATC Biotech has been Europe’s leading service provider for DNA and RNA sequencing and bioinformatics. We serve over 10.000 industrial as well as academic customers worldwide. With over 140 employees, we are continuing to strive for a sustained economic growth while being self-financed.  

2. How has your success been stable over the past 25 years?  

Constant innovation, an outstanding team and an inspiring corporate culture. We support our customers to improve the quality of life of people every day. That combination motivates us! 

3. What’s the most outstanding milestone in the history of your company?  

(thinks) There are so many… The expansion of our portfolio towards Next Generation Sequencing in 2006 as the first European company to provide these services. That allowed us to enhance our portfolio even more thoroughly, for example to offer diagnostic services such as the PraenaTest ® conducted by our subsidiary LifeCodexx. The introduction of the NightXPress service or the improved production cycle at our European Custom Sequencing Centre in Cologne are certainly two major points within the company’s growth as well.  

4. What will, according to your perspective, be the outmost – and sustainable – growth for GATC Biotech over the next ten years?  

Basic research will continue to rise. It’ll produce industrial applications on an ongoing basis for the sectors of diagnostic, pharma, agro, chemistry and biotechnology. That is so to speak an inexhaustible fund for growth. 

5. Could you name a concrete example?

GATCLIQUID - Its world’s first liquid biopsy- based service for cancer research. Our full service family offers cancer characterisation from a simple blood sample. Painful and costly tissue biopsies are replaced by non-invasive analysis of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA). This offers clinical researchers the opportunity to explore, screen and monitor a wide range of tumour-related mutations for close surveillance of tumour dynamics and cancer heterogeneity in individual patients.  

6. What is the biggest challenge the company has to face? How do you motivate your staff to look at it as a positive task?  

To continue growth by own means and with motivation is and will be the main challenge for a medium-sized company that we are. Our mission to improve the quality of life of our fellow men every day through our services keeps our people going. It is something special to work for and we can be proud of the aims we have achieved so far – yet still without resting to strive to improve our innovations.  

7. As the first European service provider, you offer sequencing services on the highest level available with PacBio RS II. Which improvements can your customers expect?  

Five years ago, generating the first sequence of an organism was an extremely big challenge. Due to the state of the art PacBio sequencer this has become a fascinatingly easy and affordable option. It’s amazing what this technology is capable of doing now.  

8. GATC Biotech has its own customer service team to take care of your customers’ needs. How important is customer satisfaction for you?  

We can only make progress with satisfied customers. A wide-above-average recommendation rate encourages us in our work. When a customer tells us „You’ve done a great job!“ we know we did the right thing. 

9. There is a great variety of different sequencing platforms within your laboratories already been accredited according to ISO 17025. Which differences are there when looking at their performance from the beginning of the 1990s till today? Which tasks need sequencing platforms to be able to perform in the future?  

It’s actually pretty simple: Today’s technologies produce more and more data for a more and more reasonable price. That allows us to achieve results that in the past only few experts suspected to be possible. This opens the way to completely new applications, especially for clinical medicine where cost pressure will become even greater. This all sounds very simple – yet we still need to put all of the components together for an optimised work-flow.

10. Which research projects is GATC Biotech involved in?  

Actually, we take part in quite a few projects. From breast cancer research to „super bugs“ in hospitals, from improved diagnostics within pre-eclampsia to the improved production of amino acids and many more  - gene sequencing has become a cross-section technology and we are proud of taking an active role within these fascinating topics.