CEO interview

CEO Interviews

Interview with Joachim Kreuzburg, Chief Executive Officer of Sartorius

Dr. Joachim Kreuzburg has been CEO of Sartorius AG since 2005. In an interview with BIOTECH Insight, he talks about the current company strategy, the importance of the right production technology for innovative medicines, ecosystems for start-ups and new trends such as cell and gene therapy.

BIOTECH Insight: Sartorius is currently investing in several construction projects - in Germany and abroad. In Germany, for example, in Guxhagen near Kassel and at the headquarters in Göttingen. Can you tell us about these construction measures, new infrastructure and further plans?

Joachim Kreuzburg: We are currently investing heavily in the expansion of our global production capacities: in Germany and other European countries, in the USA and in Asia. In the last year alone, we invested a total of around 400 million euros, and in 2022 we are planning to invest between 550 million and 600 million euros. These investments are taking place in the context of a sustainably growing market. The biopharma industry is currently experiencing a very dynamic and innovative phase worldwide, with long-term and strong growth trends. With our investments, we are creating the necessary capacities, moving production closer to our customers in the respective regions and increasing the speed of delivery.

BIOTECH Insight: So, you are focusing on expansion. The business figures also speak for steady growth. In which areas do you currently see the company demonstrating the greatest momentum?

Joachim Kreuzburg: We grew strongly in both the Laboratory and Bioprocess Divisions in 2021, with high growth rates and new highs in virtually all product segments and in all regions. At the group level, we increased our turnover last year by almost 50 percent, adjusted for exchange rate effects, to around 3.45 billion euros, and with an operating EBITDA margin of 34.1 percent we also achieved a further increase of profitability. This was an exceptionally strong development. We have been working around the clock seven days a week in many areas since the start of the pandemic.

BIOTECH Insight: The Corona pandemic has certainly been part of this business development. But what impact has the pandemic had on Sartorius' business as a whole? Which areas have gained in importance?

Joachim Kreuzburg: The pandemic-related business was indeed a relevant, but not the dominant driver of strong business development for Sartorius in the past two years. The majority of our growth came from our primary business in the areas of monoclonal antibodies and, increasingly, new cell and gene therapeutics. We are currently seeing well-filled pipelines in the industry and high investments in additional production capacities worldwide, leading to higher demand for our products.

BIOTECH Insight: Germany has long held the second place in production capacity for biopharmaceutical products worldwide. Currently, it looks as though other countries are slowly catching up. What challenges will Sartorius face if the country of its headquarters loses importance in an international comparison?

Joachim Kreuzburg: Germany is an important market for us, but we generate less than 10 percent of our sales revenue here. We work with all major pharmaceutical producers worldwide, and with the expansion of our production capacities we will be even closer to our customers - whether they produce in the USA, China, South Korea, Switzerland or Germany.

BIOTECH Insight: Apart from the pharmaceutical sector, a completely new scene of fermented foods developed in the laboratory or biobased materials for a wide variety of uses is currently evolving. Is Sartorius also represented in this area?

Joachim Kreuzburg: We have focused on a very dynamic industry with biopharmaceuticals, which is characterised by constant innovation, and we feel very comfortable with this. We are observing other segments and are also represented there to some extent, but without diluting our focus.

BIOTECH Insight: Does the Life Science Factory in Göttingen also serve as a new nucleus in your front yard to link this start-up scene more closely to Sartorius - or are you looking more globally at many international innovation centres and following the exciting things developing there?

Joachim Kreuzburg: We are doing one without letting go of the other. In Göttingen, the aim is to utilize the enormous existing scientific potential and establish a vibrant start-up scene in the field of life sciences. The Life Science Factory serves as a platform for this, for example, by providing cost-effective flexible laboratory spaces as well as various incubation programmes. Cooperating with Sartorius is an opportunity for the start-ups, but not an obligation. In our actual core business, we are fully international and maintain a wide range of collaborations with research institutions, innovation centres and start-ups.

BIOTECH Insight: What special trends do you see in the industry that Sartorius is already adapting to today? For example, in the field of cell and gene therapies, "rare diseases" or completely different topics that have a direct impact on production volumes, the flexibility of the technology used or even the materials used?

Joachim Kreuzburg: Indeed, promising progress has been recently made in the development of new approaches and modalities. As you mentioned, these include cell and gene therapy methods, but also mRNA-based approaches and other innovative technologies. Sartorius is focused on providing its customers with tools and technologies to develop and produce therapeutics and vaccines as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost. Innovative modalities often require smaller production volumes, new purification technologies and more highly integrated and automated systems.

BIOTECH Insight: Last but not least, the issue of sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in companies. How is Sartorius positioned in this regard?

Joachim Kreuzburg: We have already been continuously implementing measures to reduce our ecological footprint in recent years. Now, we have set an ambitious goal of continuously reducing our CO2 emission intensity by an average of around ten percent per year. By 2030, this should lead to an almost 70 percent lower emissions intensity. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, we will spend about one percent of the Group's turnover per year.

Joachim Kreuzburg, born in 1965, has been Chairman of the Executive Board of Sartorius AG since 2005 and is responsible for Strategy, Human Resources and Corporate Research, as well as Legal, Compliance and Communications. Since 2007, he has also been Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Sartorius Stedim Biotech S. A. After earning a university degree in mechanical engineering in Hanover, Germany, he worked at the Lower Saxony Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamlin, Germany, and at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Hanover, where he received his doctorate in 1999. In the same year, he began his career at Sartorius. Initially, Kreuzburg held various positions in Controlling, then became of Commercial Managing Director of the subsidiary GWT based in Hamburg, Germany. Afterwards, he was in charge of Financing and Investor Relations before being appointed to the Executive Board of Sartorius AG in November 2002, which he has been heading since May 2003.

 

The questions were asked by Dr Georg Kääb, BIOCOM AG/|transkript

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