Business Person of the Month October 2020: Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan

Business Person of the Month | Mon 2 Nov | Author – Business & Finance
Cathal Friel
Pictured: Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman, Open Orphan

Cathal Friel is the executive chairman of pharmaceutical services firm Open Orphan, and is our Business Person of the Month October 2020.

Under Mr Friel’s leadership, Open Orphan has been aggressively pursuing new contracts. Business has also grown strongly in the last year, in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, in September the company secured a new £4.3 million (€4.7 million) contract to conduct a human viral challenge study. According to the group, the agreement is with one of the world’s top 10 vaccine companies, and will be conducted in Open Orphan’s dedicated human viral challenge quarantine unit in London. The facility, the company said, is Europe’s only commercial 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with an on-site virology laboratory.

hVIVO, a subsidiary of Open Orphan, also works with companies in the UK and Ireland to provide COVID-19 testing.

Speaking about this contract, Mr Friel said: “Open Orphan continues to execute on its substantial pipeline that has been built up by the expertise and experience of our professional and hard working teams in hVIVO and Venn Life Sciences.

“We are focused on continuing to deliver large and profitable contracts which demonstrate Hvivo’s position as the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials.”

Open Orphan signed a contract with the UK government to develop a ‘human challenge’ study model for COVID-19 to aid in the discovery of effective vaccines and antivirals. The study model involves deliberately exposing healthy individuals to the virus in a controlled testing environment. Open Orphan subsidiary hVIVO will undertake the project

It is estimated that the contract is worth £10 million (€10.9 million) to hVIVO, which has already developed eight human challenge study models and safely run more such studies than any other company globally. The study will be sponsored by Imperial College London and conducted by hVIVO at the Royal Free Hospital’s specialist research unit in London. hVIVO will expand its clinical operations in London to facilitate the work.

Mr Friel has stated that he wants to be part of the study, which involves being infected by the virus.

Business & Finance, Business Person of the Month

Business Person the MonthBusiness & Finance, in association with KPMG, rewards excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award. This award seeks to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and, particularly, those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.