For French mid-cap Ipsen, the UK is one of three global hubs, with manufacturing in Wales, large-scale R&D activities near Oxford as well as UK Commercial Operations and global functions including HR, Tech Ops and Commercial Operations in Slough, near London. With ten percent annual growth to reach GBP 80 million (USD 106 million) in 2017 and comparable results expected for 2018, the cross-functionality of Ipsen’s UK footprint appears to be paying dividends.
In 2017, Ipsen announced a GBP 22 million (USD 29 million) investment into its manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales; a significant show of faith in the UK as a manufacturing hub, given the uncertainties of Brexit. Ewan McDowall, the company’s vice president for specialty care and commercial operations from July 2014 to June 2018, proudly states that, “We currently have 340 people working in North Wales and are the biggest pharmaceutical employer in the area, and that number is to grow to around 600 with the new investment.”
McDowall explains the importance of the Wrexham site thusly: “As the facility produces medicines for our neuroscience franchise, it is a very specialised business area and we want to ensure we continue to invest in it to maintain accessibility to treatment for patients.” He continues, “While uncertainties resulting from Brexit are inevitable, the UK is and will remain an important corporate hub, continuing to be incredibly important for Ipsen in the future. In the last 12 months, we have recruited 15 percent more people, many in senior and global positions based at our Slough office. With a strong and growing presence in the UK, we are preparing for all eventualities, including a hard Brexit. That is the most prudent assumption and we are focusing on two priorities: avoiding any disruptions in patient supply, and supporting our people working in the UK.”
With R&D also a key element of Ipsen’s UK activities, McDowall is keen to highlight the synergies between the company’s various in-country activities. He posits, “We work in collaboration with our manufacturing and R&D sites through a cross-functional UK management forum which brings together site leaders across the UK, reflecting our values as One Ipsen. This allows us to share expertise and move forward together, whether the subject at hand relates to something internal or is linked to external stakeholders.”
Looking to the future, McDowall foregrounds the importance of human resources in ensuring that Ipsen UK enjoys continued success. “For me, it all comes down to people,” he opines. “How can we retain and attract the best people in the industry, reaching within the life science space, but also beyond those rooted solely in pharmaceuticals? In the last four years, we have set a high bar in terms of the talent joining Ipsen, seeking to make this one of the ‘best places to work’.” He continues, “I believe we are able to attract great talent because at Ipsen, you are empowered, and you can make a difference very quickly. Patient-centricity is one dimension, but we are in a very dynamic and exciting phase and have an attractive proposition for our employees. This chimes with the profile of the people we look for: employees willing to take accountability and move fast.”