Expert in the field of biological sample storage and logistics management, CRYONISS is also adept at evaluating business continuity plans and identifying the holes that might well prove to be their pitfall.

Cheshire-based Cryoniss offers a comprehensive storage service at ambient, +4°C, -20°C and -80°C, as well as vapour phase liquid nitrogen at -196°C.

Those temperatures cannot be allowed to falter; there is no leeway. As such, Cryoniss has a business continuity management system that is second to none.

Following a risk-based approach, Cryoniss has in place extensive risk assessments, business impact analyses and several business continuity plans covering not only the safety and integrity of the samples it holds, but also its service provision to their customers.

What’s more, these plans are stress-tested on a frequent and regular basis, keeping pace with new developments.

But there’s many a company that can’t say the same. For some, the discovery that their safety net has frayed due to lack of maintenance comes too late.

“It has been interesting to see how Covid-19 has changed the appreciation of risk in our industry,” said chief executive Sonia Houghton.

Risk isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Quite the opposite; it can pave the way for many a great innovation. But understanding what risks can impact the survival of a business and implementing plans to mitigate these are crucial to surviving adversity.

“As Dr Kath Mackay, at Alderley Park, said in a recent issue of Forbes magazine, as we head out of the EU transition period, our Government and investors need to accept risk and invest in what might well be small companies with new ideas, because that will ensure we will continue to lead the world in terms of innovation,” said Sonia.

“There is a time and a place however, to accept risk, but in doing that, you need to put in place the contingency plan that will protect your core business, minimise disruption and keep it on track whatever problem arises.”

Far from being solely about disaster recovery – although that element does indeed equip staff to deal effectively with worst case scenarios – business continuity plans should embrace the breadth and depth of any enterprise.

Used properly, they can act as a routine health-check that identifies and allows the causes of potential business interruptions to be remedied before they cause untold harm.

Sonia said: “With business continuity plans, you don’t plan for what might happen, rather you identify the elements that are critical to the survival of your business, whether that is crucial staff, high-speed Wifi or, in our case, electricity.”

The Cryoniss team has a wealth of experience in supporting drug discovery projects, from early-stage target identification through to clinical trials and life cycle management.

What the company prides itself on most is enabling its clients to carry out exceptional science by ensuring samples remain of the highest quality – and every single last detail of its live and continually improving business continuity management system is tailored to that end.

For example, two different power supplies feed the company’s laboratory freezers and there is a back-up generator too. Should either of the feeds fail, the system automatically switches to the next one available. The bi-monthly testing schedule confirms there is no downtime.  Uninterrupted power supplies ensure that the monitoring of temperature probes in the freezers, reporting and alarms cover the seconds for the changeover of electricity supply, and again should the worst happen, staff are automatically notified of an issue. 

The 2-tonne generator itself is tested routinely, serviced annually and has been validated to run for 4 days with existing load.  Following this, validated refuelling procedures are in place for 24/7/365 use. But should the unthinkable actually happen, Cryoniss has yet more layers of protection in place.

Being aware of time frames – how quickly you would need to respond, what critical requirements (staff and resources) are required to deliver each step of a plan and how long it would take you to do so – is key to business continuity planning, alongside frequent stress testing and assessing opportunities to improve the plan further.

Sonia said: “We are living in unprecedented times and people do need to take a step back to reassess the situation and the many possible impacts on their business, particularly during the pandemic and while we are approaching the end of the EU transition period.

“Hopefully, with a little forethought and planning, 2021 will be a lot easier for everyone.”