Octapharma is a family-owned Life Science company with over 6,000 employees, 5 factories and its headquarters in Switzerland. Octapharma’s high-tech factory in Stockholm produces life-saving pharmaceutical products from blood plasma and recombinant technology. By 1Q 2017, the factory will be the group’s largest, with some 40% of total capacity.
The site entered the biotechnology era already in 1892 however, with the establishment of the Great Brewery, built for the purpose of brewing beer and targeting a growing Stockholm population. Most likely, no one at that time could have imagined that the countryside brewery would, 124 years later, have developed into an FDA-approved pharmaceutical production facility, fully integrated into the city, and with residential buildings across the road.
"Here at Octapharma Stockholm, we’re extremely proud to continue the biotechnology tradition that’s been on the site since 1892, positively contributing to our local environment while saving lives around the world,”says Alex Scheepers, General Manager at Octapharma AB.
Keeping many original architectural details, the brewery has been carefully modernised and renovated during recent years. The interior breathes Octapharma’s long-term commitment and passion towards its business and the site.
Octapharma’s ownership structure enables rapid decisions to cope with changes in market demands, as well as continuity and reinvestments in the operations. This is clearly visualised in the Stockholm factory - since Octapharma’s acquisition of the factory in 2002, EUR 250m have been invested in order to multiply the production capacity and increase the capabilities of the site.
More than 700 people are currently working at the factory, and with the decision in 2015/2016 to invest EUR 39m in expanding operations, they will be accompanied by some 100 additional employees. This investment was the most recent in an investment programme that started in 2013, which has a total investment sum of EUR 125m.
For Octapharma, as an advanced manufacturer of medicines, competence is key, and access to the right skills is critical when decisions are made to expand in Stockholm. As with many other manufacturers across sectors, Octapharma’s manufacturing process is constantly developing in complexity and requires diversified staff with the flexibility and capability to adapt to new processes and systems. Octapharma’s participation in co-developing publicly-financed training courses specially adapted to the company’s demands is one way to handle the competence development needed. Therefore, availability of sought-after competence should be a top priority for the Stockholm city council and Sweden in general in order to not lose ground in the field of pharma manufacturing.
Sweden’s stable political climate and business environment is another significant aspect in Octapharma’s decision to invest long term in Stockholm. The company is actively contributing to the Stockholm vision for 2030 and 2040, and significant investments have been made to reduce noise and make the factory energy efficient – in line with its location in the middle of Stockholm.
For most people, it is still quite unknown that the historic brewery building in the middle of Stockholm houses large-scale and high-tech biopharma manufacturing operations. Nevertheless, the factory is a solid contribution to both the Stockholm city landscape and the Swedish Life Science industry.
“With financial, social and environmental sustainability at the core of our strategy, we see our local activities as a win-win where Octapharma manages sustainable growth while at the same time contributing to the city’s vision of a sustainable Stockholm," says Alex Scheepers.