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Small Nonprofit CEO of the Year – Kelvin Lee, NIIMBL Institute Director

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National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL)

Institute Director Kelvin Lee | PHOTO BY LUIGI CIUFFETELLI

Institute Director Kelvin Lee has contributed to the growth of the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) since its conception. Always up for a challenge, Lee has dedicated himself to nurturing a diverse biopharmaceutical manufacturing community since NIIMBL was formally established in 2017.

“When you think about driving force … it changes over time, at least for me personally. In the earlier days it was the challenge of bringing together a diverse stakeholder community,” he said.

NIIMBL is partnered with a variety of public and private entities, including state and local governments, research universities, community colleges, nonprofits, medium-sized businesses, and global companies who participate in the development and manufacturing of therapeutic proteins, antibodies, vaccines, cell and gene therapies, and more.

Even now that NIIMBL has established a manufacturing ecosystem, Lee finds himself drawn to the challenge of helping the nonprofit’s public and private partners reimagine how they approach biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

“How do you assimilate all their perspectives into a vision that everyone can see themselves in? That’s hard to do … I’m still challenged by that every day because I think we can all do more to be more inclusive and improve,” Lee said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of NIIMBL’s work has been doubly apparent to Lee.

“We talked about in our early days, how the creation of an entity like NIIMBL would help the nation in many ways, including responding to public health emergencies,” Lee said. “NIIMBL has expertise and capabilities, and has a community of stakeholders here in Delaware that contributed to our national response to COVID-19.”

NIIMBL is being recognized as a leader in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, Lee said. This, he believes, will propel Delaware further toward success as a national — and even global — leader in innovation.

In the future, NIIMBL will embrace growth while focusing intently on its overall mission.

“Growth is good to the extent that it means that you’re executing on your mission and delivering impact … and our mission is all about supporting the creation and adoption of manufacturing innovations,” Lee said.

By Emma Reilly

Delaware Business Times

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