Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2009 (Revised February 2009)

Sydney IVF: Stem Cell Research

by Robert L. Simons, Kathryn Rosenberg and Natalie Kindred

Abstract

This case examines the strategy implementation and risk management decisions at Sydney IVF, a research-based in vitro fertilization and stem cell company based in Australia. Drs. Robert Jansen and Jock Anderson, who co-founded Sydney IVF in 1986, developed novel technologies which they leveraged to carve a leadership role in the inherently risky artificial fertilization business. As the company grew, its executives grappled with managing the political, ethical, and business risks associated with the contentious lab-based fertility field, instituting sophisticated safeguards such as an independent ethics committee and a "whistle blower" system for employees concerned with the company's practices. In less than two decades, Sydney IVF grew from just four employees to over 200, expanded internationally, and broadened its services to include prenatal screening for genetic diseases and DNA tests to determine lineage and paternity. In addition, the company launched a wholly-owned subsidiary, the Stem Cell Company. CEO Robert Jansen hoped to grow the Stem Cell Company but faced many challenges, including the significant ethical risks, challenging regulatory environment, and uncertain future of the stem cell field. The case describes how Jansen safeguards against risk without stifling the innovative spirit necessary to commercialize stem cells.

Keywords: Ethics; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Innovation and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Risk Management; Genetics; Commercialization; Health Industry; Australia;

Citation:

Simons, Robert L., Kathryn Rosenberg, and Natalie Kindred. "Sydney IVF: Stem Cell Research." Harvard Business School Case 109-017, January 2009. (Revised February 2009.)