Interview with Oliver Stahl, Head of Corporate Affairs at Lilly Deutschland GmbH

Can you tell us briefly what Lilly does?

Eli Lilly and Company—or “Lilly” for short—is a global, research-based pharmaceuticals company headquartered in Indianapolis (USA). Our key therapeutic products and research focus on the areas of dermatology, diabetology, neurology/psychiatry, rheumatology, oncology, and pain therapy.

Lilly was founded in 1876 by the pharmacist Eli Lilly. Since then, our researchers have consistently devoted themselves to finding new, and improving existing, therapies for previously incurable or insufficiently treatable diseases. This means that a passion for research is part of our DNA. One particular breakthrough—and the start of our success story—was that we were the first company to mass-produce insulin. This meant that being diagnosed with diabetes was no longer a death sentence.

Our activities—from discovery through drug development, manufactoring and sales down to patient programs and volunteer initiatives—reflect our commitment and our mission: To combine care and a passion for research in the service of developing innovative drugs that make people’s lives better or easier around the world.

What is more, we are pretty successful at all this: With annual revenues of a good USD 28 billion, we are one of the top 15 pharmaceuticals companies worldwide in terms of sales. For many years now, we have reinvested roughly 25 percent of our revenues in research and development, making us an innovation leader in the sector. Our strong focus on innovation is paying off, too: Our current pipeline is one of the most promising in the industry.

Your German headquarters have been located in Hessen since 1960. What are you working on in Bad Homburg?

Germany is Lilly’s third-largest country organization. And we have been loyal to Bad Homburg for more than 50 years. Our location here is focused on sales and marketing. In addition, our office is a leader in providing support for clinical studies and home to many colleagues from international functions such as quality assurance, logistics, and IT.

© Lilly

Oliver Stahl, Head of Corporate Affairs at Lilly Deutschland GmbH

What advantages does Hessen offer you, as a life sciences company?

Hessen offers us several benefits. To start with, it has an outstanding infrastructure. A large number of excellent universities and research centers are located here, and both the state and the city of Bad Homburg have always been reliable partners over the decades, both politically and from a business perspective.

Industrial healthcare in Hessen is a sunrise sector. It generates innovations, creates significant value, is a major exporter, and is cyclically robust—all thanks to a workforce whose qualifications are well above average. Lilly Germany is part of the state’s healthcare industry. We are a member of the Hessen Healthcare Industry Initiative (IGH), which is working to strengthen Hessen as a sector location. This network comprises partners drawn from politics, labor unions, research, academia, and business, who collaborate constructively to ensure that Hessen remains internationally competitive as a location in the future, too. The close links between the partners create trust and help progress happen faster. Finding such a concentration of players in such a small space is rare or unheard of elsewhere.

The State of Hessen is an important partner for us and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the government.

Oliver StahlHead of Corporate Affairs at Lilly Deutschland GmbH

How has Hessen changed as a location for the pharmaceuticals industry in recent years/over the last decades?

The state government has consistently underscored the importance of the industrial healthcare sector in Hessen over the years. The State of Hessen is an important partner for us and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the government.

In particular, Hessen has recognized that the digital transformation process plays a pivotal role. This is an important signal for our sector, since politicians and business need to work together closely to ensure that digital technologies can be used to benefit patients and healthcare plan members. We see real opportunities for in-depth cooperation in this area going forward.

Are you involved in regional clusters in Hessen or do you work together with universities or research facilities?

We are involved in a number of initiatives in Hessen. For example, we are active members of the Hessen Healthcare Industry Initiative (IGH), which I already mentioned. This brings together the economic framework, science and academia, research, and social aspects, and the constructive dialog that takes place thanks to the initiative helps make Hessen’s healthcare industry a success. We have also offered twin-track degree courses for many years now together with the Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen, central Hessen’s Technical University.

In addition, Lilly has been the principal sponsor of the Frankfurter Forum für gesellschafts- und gesundheitspolitische Fragen (the Frankfurt Forum for Social and Healthcare Questions) ever since this was founded in 2008. The forum offers a venue for specialists drawn from the areas of society, politics, and science to meet and share information twice a year, and to develop answers to important social and healthcare policy issues. The goal is to produce suggestions and recommend actions for decision-makers in the fields of politics and healthcare, and hence to actively influence the development of the German healthcare system. The forum feels it is important that the various different ethical, medical, legal, economic, and political viewpoints are publicized and illuminated. The lectures and discussions are published in German in the “Frankfurter Forum: Diskurse” series.

Where do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?

I play tennis in my free time and am out a lot on my bike in the hills and woods of the Taunus. Incidentally, the speed with which you can be in the countryside is a real benefit of our location in Hessen. And since I discovered the long-distance running routes that the area offers some years ago, I often spend quite some time outdoors.

Thank you for talking to us!

By Daria Dietz