12:00 AM
Feb 11, 2013
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Serono's starter kit

Merck Serono spinout program keeps assets close to home during restructuring

In the midst of a major restructuring, Merck KGaA has found a way to preserve access to key assets and skill sets even as the company makes cutbacks aimed at improving its fiscal health.

Merck Serono S.A.'s Entrepreneur Partnership Program is providing opportunities for employees to propose and lead spinouts that the pharma will either invest in through its corporate venture fund, or contract with for services.

One year ago, in February 2012, Merck announced a cost-cutting program across all its businesses and functional areas(see BioCentury, March 19, 2012).

A major step, announced two months later, was closing the Geneva headquarters of its Merck Serono unit while retaining Merck KGaA's European headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.

Merck said it would offer new positions or outplacement services to 750 of the Geneva site's 1,250 employees.

To retain access to key personnel and assets, it also launched the Entrepreneur Partnership Program last April with €30 million ($39.5 million) to invest in spinouts.

Merck envisions three types of spinouts: companies that will develop shelved assets; companies that will provide support and services; and consultancies focused on marketing, reimbursement or regulatory affairs.

"As we closed the Geneva facility, we needed to maintain certain skill sets," said Susan Jane Herbert, Merck Serono's EVP and head of global business development strategy. "It was an optimized way that we could access a certain amount of talent and also give people other opportunities outside...

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