Here, There and Everywhere
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Strategy for the Years to Come
- Fig. 1: from left to right: Marc N. Casper, CEO, Thermo Fisher; Karen Kirkwood VP Corporate Communication, Thermo Fisher; Dr. Katja Habermueller, G.I.T. Laboratory Journal Europe
- Fig. 2: Thermo Fisher Scientific booth at Pittcon 2010
- Fig. 3: Thermo Fisher Scientific (Ahura) handheld instruments for chemical analyses.
At Pittcon 2010 in Orlando, Thermo Fisher Scientific not only presented a range of new products but also strengthened its commitment to innovation. The company weathered the storm of global recession very well and is thus able to increase its investment in R&D by 30 million US Dollars this year to approximatly 280 million. G.I.T. Laboratory Journal Europe talked to Marc Casper, President and CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, about new innovative products and solutions presented at Pittcon, latest acquisitions and Thermo Fisher Scientific's future strategy.
Thermo Fisher Scientific arose through the merger of Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific in 2006. Both of the former companies were already strong in the market. Together they form the most important company in instrumentation and scientific services. Thermo Fisher Scientific grew constantly, with a double digit growth except in the difficult year of 2009. Since the merger, Thermo Fisher Scientific acquired 24 companies in total. Acquisitions this year so far include e.g. Ahura Scientific, Finnzymes and recently Proxeon. Today Thermo Fisher Scientific employs over 35,000 people worldwide and has annual revenues of over 10 billion US$. Despite the slight decrease in revenues in the fiscal year 2009 in comparison to 2008, Thermo Fisher Scientific is optimistic about renewed growth in 2010 and the following years.
Marc N. Casper joined Thermo Electron in 2001 as president of the life and laboratory sciences segment. He was named senior vice president of the company in December 2003, and in March 2005 was given responsibility for all operating divisions. In November 2006, Casper was named executive vice president of the company and president of the Analytical Technologies Group. In May 2008, he became chief operating officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific, and in October 2009, he was appointed as president and CEO. Prior to joining the company, Casper served as president, chief executive officer and Director of Kendro Laboratory Products.
Mr. Casper, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to talk to you despite your time limitations. Can you please give us an overview on the plans of Thermo Fisher Scientific concerning the further development of the company?
Marc Casper: We believe that there is a tremendous value in having extended our portfolio.
We provide nearly everything you need to run a modern laboratory. We have sample preparation, lab equipment, we have the instruments, the software, the reagents, and we have the channels to bring all this to our customers effectively. We follow a different strategy than anybody else, we invest a significant amount of money for R&D and the development of new products to ensure that we are and stay the most innovative company in the field.
We are investing heavily in Asia where our multinational customers are strongly expanding their activities and we want to make sure that we are able to support them, without losing the focus on our core business that is still in Europe and the USA.
Obviously many industrial sectors are heavily affected by the recession. But despite the pressures on revenue growth during most of 2009 we were able to grow once again in the fourth quarter of 2009, which was really great.
Do you believe that the reason for this positive development can be partially the fact that you are active in different markets?
Marc Casper: We serve a variety of attractive markets like life sciences, healthcare, and environmental monitoring. A kind of a mixture of the world's most important future challenges and we are there.
Behind the scenes we are helping our customers in solving their challenges. We are not necessarily in the headlines but our customers try to cure diseases, for example they were ensuring that we could handle the H1N1 epidemic last year. They are dealing with the fact that we have global warming. Our technology is used for that, even in the top academic environments.
Do you focus on the industrial markets or more on academics?
Marc Casper: It's a blend of academic life sciences and industry.
To talk about Thermo Fisher Scientifics latest acquisitions, what is the current status of the Ahura integration?
Marc Casper: The Ahura acquisition has closed now and is in the prouss of being integrated. It is really an advantage that we can now deliver a lab based quality control technology to the field. Imagine applications like airport screening. When you wish to make sure that this particular bottle of water really contains water and nothing else, in less than 20 seconds you now can exactly determine what is in that bottle. Or in a military or safety application, whether you are doing it directly with the handheld instrument or you send it out with a robot that drives it up to the substance you wish to analyze to address the question of whether it is a chemical weapon or an explosive device.
Was Thermo Fisher Scientific already active in the safety and security markets before the Ahura acquisition?
Marc Casper: Sure, we have a strong position in radiation monitoring products. Our products are used in chemical analyses in safety applications, for screening at ports, and even in Germany we are very strong for example with airport explosives detection. Our instrumentation is the standard for this application. I always feel very comfortable when I am going to the Frankfurt or Munich airport, knowing that the best available technology is being used.
And B.R.A.H.M.S, is it already fully integrated?
Marc Casper: The integration is still in process. This is a terrific business bringing very innovative technology to the specialty diagnostic field, for example, with the standard in Europe for biomarkers for sepsis monitoring. This product was recently launched in the US, giving us great strengths commercially to grow this business and to enter other growing markets around the world. There is a great pipeline of other biomarkers B.R.A.H.M.S. is working on, that we eventually can commercialize as well.
B.R.A.H.M.S was focused especially on the German market as far as we know, wasn't it?
Marc Casper: Exactly, although they had a global presence, their strengths were very European. With our great strengths globally, we will help to commercialize B.R.A.H.M.S. products in additional markets around the world. We used this acquisition as an opportunity for establishing a center of excellence in clinical diagnostics and biomarker research in Henningsdorf, Germany where the B.R.A.H.M.S. products are produced.
Reporting on all the product news from Thermo Fisher Scientific presented here at Pittcon would definitely go beyond the scope of a short interview, but would you give us an impression which instruments are the most important ones for you?
Marc Casper: You're absolutely right, we presented a large number of new products already at LabAutomation, now here at Pittcon and we will continue this at Analytica in Munich. The most exciting instruments for us may be our LTQ Velos and LTQ Velos Orbitrap Mass Spectrometers, representing cutting edge research tools for proteomics and providing a new set of capabilities in terms of high mass accuracy and reliability that is really unmatched in the market.
We are the market leader in LIMS solutions and we now offer the unique concept of "LIMS on demand". You can imagine that purchasing a LIMS system can be a substantial capital investment especially when you are a small or a medium sized company or even an academic lab. Smaller labs typically have concerns whether they can afford a complete LIMS system and are therefore often looking for a manual way to solve that problem. Our "LIMS on demand" system now provides LIMS more as a service than a product. You don't have to make the big commitment to one or the other software package, you can use web-based "LIMS on demand" as long as you like. Therefore you can get a core technology simply by renting.
You presented the Orbitor laboratory robot at LabAutomation, a really smart instrument which is simple and robust with a very small footprint but large capabilities. But the most interesting thing with this robot is that that instrumentation from other manufacturers is easy to implement in a workflow by means of the Momentum control software.
Marc Casper: Yes, our strategy is to give our customers the very best and what they really need. We are not afraid to supplement in any way with other suppliers. We make it easy to implement other products because we wish to make our customers happy.
What are your expectations concerning the recovery of the economy in the different regions of the world?
Marc Casper: For sure there are experts greater than us for questions like that, but globally we are assuming a slow economic recovery, strong growth in China and other Asian countries, a very moderate growth in the US and our belief is that the slowest growth will occur in Europe. We believe that the economic recovery worldwide will take a little bit longer.
For sure we plan to do better than the average growth in economy. In 2010, we expect to regain our growth momentum. This will be a result of many of the invesments we decided to make in 2009, and we will continue to invest in the company to ensure strong future growth.