Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2011 (Revised February 2012)

Innovation and Growth at Actelion Ltd.

by Gary P. Pisano, Daniela Beyersdorfer and Ruth Dittrich


In late 2010, Jean-Paul Clozel, CEO of the Swiss biotech pharmaceuticals firm Actelion, looks back on a successful decade. The small venture that he had started with a few of his scientist colleagues in the late 1990s to discover novel medicine in a research-driven organisation had grown into one of Europe's largest biotech firms by revenues. Their success was mainly founded on their orphan indication drug Tracleer, which Actelion sold and marketed worldwide. However, Tracleer's looming patent expiry in a few years and recent late-stage pipeline setbacks had put the company under pressure from investors. While Clozel was confident in their ability to deliver future drugs that could secure further growing revenue streams, he wondered how to maintain their entrepreneurial culture that he saw as a prerequisite for this--particularly their lean hierarchy and researchers' freedom to follow innovation where it led them--in a company of more than 2,400 people which continued to grow.

Keywords: Business Model; Talent and Talent Management; Innovation and Management; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Product Development; Organizational Culture; Research and Development; Biotechnology Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Switzerland;


Pisano, Gary P., Daniela Beyersdorfer, and Ruth Dittrich. "Innovation and Growth at Actelion Ltd." Harvard Business School Case 611-065, March 2011. (Revised February 2012.)