21 March 2023 | Tuesday | News
Eva van Pelt Eppendorf SE, Co-CEO & Chief Commercial Officer
BioPharma APAC organized a Women’s Leadership Series and interviewed a Eva van Pelt Co-CEO & Chief Commercial Officer Eppendorf SE, Hamburg, Germany. The interview sheds light on the company’s history and its evolution over the years, as well as the areas of business with the most growth potential in the Asia/Pacific/Africa (APA) region, and the company’s approach to research and development.
Inquiring minds, team spirit and courage – plus a strong ambition to create innovations that benefit humans: The Eppendorf founders and their small team were a textbook example of a start-up. The company’s history goes all the way back to 1945, when it was established – full of pioneering spirit – under the name “Arbeitsgruppe Dr. Netheler” (Dr. Netheler’s work group).
Europe was devastated by the war, and Hamburg resembled a huge field of rubble. The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, too, was badly damaged, and so a small group of technical experts, led by Dr. Heinrich Netheler and Dr. Hans Hinz, began to repair defective medical equipment and instruments in a barracks building on the medical center’s grounds.
As early as 1946, Dr. Netheler and Dr. Hinz renamed their work group “Elektromedizinische Werkstätten” (Electromedical Workshops), thus laying the foundation for a company that would go on to develop innovative devices that are oriented extremely closely to the customer’s needs and continually open completely new areas of application.
1961 sees the market launch of the world’s first piston-stroke pipette, which would radically change the way laboratories around the world work. It was this Eppendorf pipette that opened the door to the microliter range. The reaction tubes developed not long after having become household names in today’s laboratories, where they are referred to as Eppendorf Tubes® or simply as Eppis®. Since 1964, Eppendorf centrifuges, mixers and thermostats continue to set even higher quality standards, enabling researchers around the globe to make new discoveries.
In 1965, 20 years after the company started operating in its makeshift barracks, the foundation stone was laid for today’s headquarters in Hamburg, Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the German Democratic Republic, Eppendorf acquired “Engelsdorf GmbH”, based in Leipzig, Germany in the early 1990s, thus strengthening its centrifuge business.
As of 2000, the company continued its growth trajectory under the name Eppendorf AG, investing in brands and markets as well as in services, logistics and production. For example, Eppendorf further internationalized its production capabilities by purchasing the U.S. company New Brunswick Scientific Inc. in 2007. In 2012, it strengthened its biotechnology business through the acquisition of the German company DASGIP Information and Process Technology GmbH in Jülich. And in 2020, it became the only full-range supplier of centrifuges worldwide by acquiring the centrifuge business of Japan’s Koki Holdings Co., Limited, whose Himac® brand is associated with premium quality all over the world. Since 2021, Eppendorf has been operating as a European Company (Societas Europaea, SE). The name Eppendorf SE reflects the company’s evolution toward a modern, progressive, and international enterprise.
Almost 80 years after its founding, Eppendorf has long become an indispensable part of the globa laboratory industry, with around 5,000 employees working for the company in 33 countries. Its heart still beats in Hamburg, but Eppendorf is at home across the world.
Asia is key for sustainable success! The efforts that Eppendorf has been making ever since it entered the Asian market to continue its growth are correspondingly great. To this end, a number of important steps have been undertaken to continue the successful course and implement measures to ensure future growth in the APA region (Asia/Pacific/Africa) as well as China.
Since 2018 the entire organizational structure of Eppendorf in this region has been realigned. From the previously unified region, the Chinese and Asian markets were separated to ensure maximum customer centricity. The past four years proved right, as business is constantly increasing in the APA and China region as a result of Eppendorf’s increased efforts. Let alone from 2019 to 2021 revenues in APA grew by about 67% in China by about 45%. In fiscal year 2021 Asia contributed almost 30% of Eppendorf’s total revenue (APA 15.7% and China 14.0%), an impressive development, demonstrating the strength and relevance of the market. For 2022 preliminary numbers show a strong double-digit growth in APA and China.
From a product and service perspective, we see significant potential with regards to our centrifugation business, but also looking at our liquid handling solutions. Which is why, for example, Eppendorf is expanding its production operation in the Chinese market. In the new production site located in the Shanghai metropolitan region Eppendorf centrifuges will be manufactured for the local market.
At the heart of every product and service stand our customers – we have strong, long-lasting relationships with our customers, and we listen to their needs and challenges. Customer centricity is not only a phrase for us, it’s practiced every day. This is also reflected in our approach to R&D.
Eppendorf’s production sites and R&D departments have exceptional know-how and a high level of expertise, which is pooled and managed efficiently thanks to a specially developed, and successfully implemented internal structure. This enables Eppendorf to tap new markets and new customer segments more easily to further optimize product development activities across multiple locations.
Every product development is challenged by our customers – we include them early on in our development stages to ensure our idea of the product meets the customers’ needs. Along each step we make sure to bring their view into the process. Same accounts for prototyping, once we reached this stage, customers ensure we get better and bring the best possible product to the market.
Additionally, we have regular surveys to get a broad understanding and overview of what customers are worried about, their satisfaction with our services and products as well as regarding their research and laboratory challenges in the workflow. This combination of one-on-one exchange, personal relationships and representative statistical data is what keeps us close to our customers and through them to the local market.
We’re close to our customers so we can gain the best possible understanding of their needs. This allows us to develop laboratory products and solutions that meet – or even exceed – all requirements.
In line with our R&D approach, we are able to be ahead of trends and developments in the industry because of our close customer relationships. Additionally, we are an international corporation with more than 5,000 employees across the globe. Customer proximity is crucial for us, so our teams in the different regions know exactly what is going on in their regions, what their customers are working on and what scientific trends and developments are underway. Through this networked approach, we are in constant exchange as an international team aligning on what we see in the market and also including what our customers tell us.
Breaking it down to the product level, we have highly specialized teams with an eye on what is on the horizon in the different regions and how this may or may not affect a specific product group.
To foster further development and ensure sustainable growth Eppendorf is investing overproportionately in the expansion of its global locations, particularly in Asia. The founding of a new subsidiary in Singapore inaugurated in August last year, including an impressive service location for calibrations, a demo laboratory as well as a customer experience space is one of the most recent results of these investments. Other investments include the move to a new, larger office site in Seoul, South Korea, continuously expanding the site in Shanghai, China, as well as opening another office location in India, and expanding calibration facilities in Chennai.
In Asia (APA and China) the number of employees increased by approx. 30% from 2019 to 2021. Every location with its team operates under one roof and ensures full customer support with differentiated sales activities, service and training offerings.
Apart from our own subsidiaries we also maintain close contacts with dealers throughout the region, enabling comprehensive market penetration and ensuring our customers have access to our entire portfolio across the globe. All this supports us in tailoring products, services, and solutions to local needs also for the APAC region.
Sustainability is key for our customers but also to us as a corporate Group. Being aware of its own contribution and responsibility towards society and the environment Eppendorf recently announced its ambitious sustainability strategy, setting the clear target of becoming climate-neutral by 2028.
The comprehensive climate strategy defines clear targets for making the entire corporate group, climate-neutral as quickly as possible.
The strategy includes:
Projections show that these measures will reduce Eppendorf’s CO2 emissions to their lowest possible level by 2028.
Eppendorf has been providing researchers with the necessary tools for their jobs ever since it started out as a company. We are taking vital steps to ensure that in th future, laboratory processes and workflows can be planned, executed and documented in a digital and networked manner.
Every year, Eppendorf undertakes massive investments in its innovative strength in order to develop new, even more precise and even more reliable instruments. In this way, the company strives to raise laboratory work to a new level and live up to its excellent reputation on the global market. Eppendorf has set itself an ambitious goal and formulated a clear vision for this purpose: In the years ahead, we as a corporate group want to become the leading sample management company in the world and the preferred supplier for its customers, providing the complete range of equipment and technologies needed to process samples.
Our ongoing, high-quality dialogue with customers is one of the key factors in Eppendorf’s success and will continue to guide us in our approach to customers in the future. Customer requirements are also a top priority in Eppendorf’s ongoing transformation into a full-range provider of tomorrow’s digital and analogous lab solutions.
Acquisitions ensure we reach our ambitious goal of being THE sample management company. The acquisition of Koki’s centrifuge business, including the premium Himac brand in 2020 mark for example a targeted step to expand Eppendorf’s centrifuge business and solidifying its strong market position as one of the world’s leading makers of high-end centrifuges for the pharma and life science industries as well as academic and commercial research.
Apart from creating even more proximity with its customers through now locations and services, Eppendorf also places special importance to the topic of safe and secure delivery, which is why new and extended warehouse locations in Seoul, Shanghai and Singapore expand Eppendorf’s Asian delivery network. Therefore, generally speaking, you can expect Eppendorf to continue its committed to the Asian market as well as to its customers and employees in the region.
Eppendorf’s priority lies on strengthening its presence throughout Asia and growing together with the life science market in the region. Our investments remain high as we continuously expand our local network. Just a few examples for this, we will be inaugurating new offices by the end of this year in Thailand, South Africa and Dubai.