Life sciences represent an extremely diverse and inter-disciplinary industry. How would you define the term personally?
Essentially, it’s all about the health of living organisms; in other words, plants, people and animals. In addressing this issue, the activities of the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and the healthcare sector all come into play. It’s a rapidly growing area, and many companies are elbowing their way in to it – even those from the agriculture industry, for example when it comes to novel seeds.
Why are Swiss companies so successful in this line of business?
By its very nature, Switzerland has always had a tiny domestic market. Already in earlier days, this forced companies to expand beyond the nation’s borders both operationally and in terms of acquiring talented scientists from elsewhere. Out of this has come the kind of corporate culture that one can see today at so many large, globally active Swiss companies. Switzerland’s outstanding education system, with its technical colleges and renowned universities that foster a constant exchange with foreign schools of higher learning and the industry itself, is without a doubt an ideal seedbed. What’s more, the stability of the Swiss economy and hence the ability to plan for the long term are factors that are especially crucial to the pharma industry, given its innovation, production and approval cycles that last on average about ten years.
What influence do population growth, increasing life expectancy and skyrocketing healthcare costs have on the dynamics of the life sciences industry?
Population growth and increasing prosperity lead to greater demand for healthcare services and pharmaceutical products. In the OECD member nations, outlays for healthcare in the broadest sense already account on average for about 13 per cent of gross domestic product. And those expenditures are growing at a significantly faster rate than the economy as a whole. All of the actors in the healthcare industry are aware that this trend is not sustainable. Drug companies have come under price and margin pressures; primary physicians, specialists and hospitals need to work more efficiently and effectively. We’re also seeing an increase in M&A activity, as well as intensified collaboration and partnerships between companies and hospitals.