Vanguard Scientific's customizable services are helping build cannabis processes from the ground up
By Allison Cohn
Founded in 2015, Vanguard Scientific was built on the belief that innovation in botanical based medicines can make the world a better place. “We enable our clients to innovate through quality and consistency, helping them build out their labs, design processing facilities and formulate finished products,” CEO Matthew Anderson explains. Vanguard Scientific does everything from research and development and supply chain management, to providing technology integration capabilities and implementing customized systems and solutions. They create, teach and implement standards to provide their clients with consistent, quality products. Their end game is to improve the overall quality of health and well being of their client’s customers — and humanity, in general.
“No two clients are at the same place in their journey,” says Anderson. “So we come in as subject matter experts with our consulting division. And it’s not about us; it’s about how our clients execute and deliver because of what we’ve done on their behalf.”
SERVICES TAILORED TO EACH CLIENT
Vanguard Scientific’s clients can utilize their customizable services to essentially build out their hemp or cannabis processing businesses from the ground up. Whether it’s designing and building operations, establishing or changing processes and procedures, managing regulations and manufacturing practices, adhering to FDA compliances and/or establishing quality management systems and strategies, Vanguard Scientific provides it all, from training and equipment to licensing and business planning.
Vanguard Scientific’s clients and customers range from licensed manufacturers to educational universities. “We’re hired to design their facilities, work with engineering and quality control teams to set up their operations, develop management systems and ultimately stabilize their supply chain,” explains Anderson. “We generally work with clients for 3-6 months inside their facilities making sure that processes, protocols and product recipes are appropriately tuned and calibrated to produce at the expected efficiencies. Most often we develop their processing plans, like how many pounds per day they ought to be manufacturing. We look at their business through a techno/economic lens.”
Vanguard Scientific expends lots of energy ensuring that their clients and employees are the right fit. It’s all about quality versus quantity for them, commanding efficiency and valuing compatibility. They try to be realistic when it comes to determining a feasible scope and resourcing with clients. And their team of highly specialized experts in each field (engineers, biochemists, fire safety, etc.) are meticulously chosen to fill the roles. “We spend a lot of time up front making sure the client is capable,” says Anderson. “We have a lot of discipline in order to make sure we’re truly servicing the right customer.”
Before Covid hit, Vanguard Scientific had over forty employees. Now they’ve got just about half that — doing the jobs of what could feasibly require an entire ant colony to accomplish. As their workforce shrank, the company grew to working in nine different countries across the globe, from Israel and New Zealand to Colombia and Malta. They were able to scale quickly due to client referrals — and gradual international cannabis regulation rollouts. Vanguard Scientific adapted effectively to Covid nuances, restaging and recognizing opportunities to innovate and work remotely; empowering its clients through virtual learning.
“It’s been a journey,” says Anderson. “Thriving isn’t a term any company can use right now, but we certainly know what we are to the industry today. We think we know why we’re going to be relevant, helpful and valuable to our clients and partners in the coming months.”
“As the landscape evolves, players all get in the pool together and try to monetize cannabinoids. Our role is pretty unique. Our core competency is in the actual state change, from the necessity to understand the supply chain. We’ve become experts on everything, from cultivation practices to good manufacturing practices. One of the highlights [of Vanguard Scientific] is that our staff of special, selfless scientists and engineers are trying to make our clients successful. It’s not about us. It’s about the work we do for our clients,” says Anderson.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PLANT
But, business aside, at the end of the day Vanguard Scientific considers themselves to be plant stewards. Their company helps to “celebrate the molecules inside of cannabis,” according to Anderson. “We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of all the capabilities these therapeutics have to enhance quality of life, which we’re really serious about.”
As Vanguard Scientific’s clients continue to improve regulations and submit clinical trials, Anderson hopes to see opioid products replaced with plant medicine. “It’s really inspiring stuff,” he says. “It’s been really cool, as a company, to find culture around that. That’s something close to my heart. And Covid created a lot of challenges, causing people to show up for that larger why.”
According to Anderson, whether it’s responsible agriculture or environmentally friendly lab practices, it’s still the “wild, wild west” when it comes to cannabis industry best practices. For Vanguard Scientific, this is an opportunity to help steer things in the right direction from the start.
Anderson is a self proclaimed futurist and is heavily spiritual. He believes plants are here to heal, inform and expand what we, as people, can be. He looks forward to seeing the natural medicine industry upset the chem-based pharmaceutical industry. “It’s interesting,” he muses, “there have been a lot of folks trying to lock the plant up with preventative patenting. There are big bad pharma guys you don’t want to work for. Then there are the good guys who want to bring the plant out for commercialization. It’s the most productive plant on the face of the earth. Ten acres of hemp can do so much more than forty acres of timber.”
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Allison Cohn loves gold spray paint and nonsense. She also has a very difficult time sitting still and keeping quiet. She can often be found dancing like a fool when she isn’t hiding out in her mountain lair or gallivanting around the globe.