Bayer’s operations in Finland go all the way back to the 1960s but it was the acquisition of its manufacturing and R&D facilities in Turku in 2006 that provided the script for its blockbuster Finnish success story: Mirena, the intrauterine contraceptive device that has generated over EUR 1 billion in sales.
The idea to combine the coil and oral contraceptive pill was first developed by Professor Tapani Luukkainen in Finland during the 1970s and 1980s. The product was launched in the Nordics in the 1990s and is now exported to about 130 countries.
“Bayer’s hormonal coils are a good example of a product which combines Finnish innovation and inter-disciplinary know-how with the sales and marketing strength of an international company. Turku is the only production site for the Mirena contraceptive family, so it is also an important location for us globally,” says Miriam Holstein, Managing Director, Bayer Nordic SE.
In 2011, Bayer decided to locate its Nordic headquarters in Espoo, Finland. The global pharmaceutical and life sciences giant has also played a major role in the growth of Finland’s vibrant health ecosystem that now involves hundreds companies, education and research organisations, and public authorities.
“Bayer has a solid footprint in Finland. We invest 60 million euros annually and have 800 employees here. Finland is one of the most innovative countries in the world and has a high level of talent available, which is what our pharmaceutical business thrives on,” says Holstein.
Active R&D work in Finland
Bayer’s R&D work in Turku is focused in the field of polymer based drug delivery, a unique technology enabling applications that can deliver small amounts of the drug substance to a specific target very precisely. The technology can be used to develop products for treatments lasting from a few months to several years.
The Mirena product family now also includes two additional hormonal coils, the latest one launched in 2017. According to Bayer, it is continuously investigating and developing new preparations for contraception and gynecological diseases in Turku. Bayer actively sources Finnish expertise through cooperation with academic researchers, small and medium-sized enterprises and startups.
“The collaboration and partnering between companies, government and innovation institutes is very easy in Finland. It is straight-forward to identify and get connected with the relevant people,” says Holstein.
Espoo Clinical Project Management
Espoo is also host to Bayer’s fourth biggest global clinical project management unit which manages and oversees over 20 global clinical trials in the areas of oncology, cardiology, and gynecological therapies, covering more than 1 000 investigational sites in over 40 countries.
“The establishment of such a significant hub is a huge acknowledgement of Finnish expertise and we are of course very proud of this achievement. We have to stay competitive internally within Bayer, and so far the operating environment in Finland has been very good,” Holstein explains.
“In addition to more investments in Finland, the high ranking means interesting career opportunities, and we are constantly recruiting highly talented people to support our activities locally and globally.”