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Smartbytes expands fast beyond its borders

Aug 03, 2016
Credit : GMI Post

A success story in every aspect, Smartbytes was built from scratch by CEO Victor Evans.

In just 12 years, the IT solutions company has grown from a three-person operation in a small apartment to an industry leader with 30 employees making a name for itself around the world.

Smartbytes’ success can be attributed to the clever move of Evans to hire the often-overlooked IT experts — the hackers — and bring them into the fold of professional business. Also, his business model focused on professional IT services rather than technology, filling a gap in the market.

“Panama has great talent in IT, but they are working in the wrong places. There is no leader, nowhere to channel that energy to something good,” Evans said.

As Panama experiences significant changes in recent years, several companies face a multitude of challenges; but the country also gains more prominence on the world stage, Smartbytes has grabbed the attention of industry giants, such as HP, F5, VMware and Microsoft.

Yet, the most valuable asset of Smartbytes is its people. Evans’ priority is to grow its management team and workforce, while simultaneously, in the longer run, form more partnerships with foreign companies and thus, expand its network outside Panama.

“Smartbytes is a company of talent; talent in IT, talent in business and talent in helping you,” stressed Evans.

Cemento Interoceanico – a vital contributor to building its nation

Aug 03, 2016
Credit : GMI Post

Amid rapid economic growth, Panama’s government has prioritized infrastructure development to create a sustainable future. Because of this, the local construction industry is experiencing a boom, with Cemento Interoceanico — the country’s only truly local cement manufacturer — finding itself competing with giants in the industry.

Cemento Interoceanico’s modern and environmentally friendly plant

In the last few years, increasing demand for cement has prompted the entry of multinationals, something that has made it tough for homegrown companies.

While Cemento Interoceanico’s market share is small compared to that of its foreign rivals, it has ensured growth by providing quality products and value-added services.

“In a market dominated by multinationals, you need to innovate, focusing on creating value to customers across the country. There is no other cement grinder like us, ‘100 percent Panamanian,’” said CEO Jorge Azcarraga.

Cemento Interoceanico focuses on local projects. But to maximize its impact on the market, the company is seeking international investors, particularly from Japan, so that it can take on more projects, create additional value-added services, and cater to a more diverse clientele.

But, Cemento Interoceanico has various projects in the pipeline that will further secure its standing in the local market.

“The cement market has experienced a slowdown in the last 18 months. However, as an industry and as a company, we reinvent ourselves and seize the business for capturing new opportunities for growth. We are very confident there will be a turnaround soon,” Azcarraga said.

Stem cell pioneer sets sights on Japan

Aug 03, 2016
Credit : GMI Post

“We enjoy the advantage of having a large amount of clinical data on 2,000 patients. So we analyzed who received which cells and which cells worked best in different conditions. This allowed us to create our selection process through molecular profiling,” explained Medistem Founder and CEO Dr. Neil Riordan.

Operating what is arguably the country’s most advanced laboratory, an 8,000-sq-ft facility in the City of Knowledge science and technology cluster, Medistem has raised its profile in recent years as it develops stem cell-based products for clinical trials for treatment of autism, asthma, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal cord injuries.

Medistem Founder and CEO Dr. Neil Riordan

Utilizing its patented technologies, Medistem harvests human adult stem cells from umbilical tissues and blood, as well as from bone marrow and adipose tissue.

“We have intellectual property on a methodology for basically defining which are good cells, which are mediocre and which are the useless ones. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved our cells for compassionate use in the United States. This is a big step,” Riordan said.

Compassionate use, also known as expanded access, refers to the use of investigational new drugs outside of a clinical trial by patients with serious, life threatening conditions.

After finishing its first prospective clinical trial, and with six others in the pipeline, the company is considering the favorable regulatory conditions for cell therapy in Japan, now a promising market for its products.

“Japan has a law on the books that allows a company of our size to commercialize such products. That makes it our number one priority. We are gearing up to present our data to regulators, as well holding talks with potential partners over there,” Riordan added. 

Panama 2016 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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