Thermo Fisher Scientific

3 min read 25 May 23

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Thermo Fisher Scientific manufactures and distributes life sciences tools and equipment, from simple pipettes and testing reagents to electron microscopes and DNA sequencers. Its customers work in pharmaceutical and biotech companies, hospitals and clinical diagnostic labs, universities, research institutions and government agencies. 

Enabling innovation

With ageing populations and the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases, global healthcare demand is set to grow over the coming decades. Innovation will be crucial to meet this need, and global pharmaceutical and biotech research & development (R&D) is forecast to grow significantly over the coming years. 

Thermo Fisher will play a key role in driving innovation within the healthcare industry and beyond. The company is what we call an ‘enabler’ – it enables others to create positive impacts. Thermo Fisher provides scientists and researchers with the tools necessary to study diseases, develop new drugs, create new diagnostic tests and much more. Its technologies have supported the cutting-edge work of two Nobel Prize winners, and were used in the development of the first FDA-approved CAR-T immunotherapy to treat cancer. 

Thermo Fisher’s commitment to innovation also applies to its own operations. Every year, it invests $1 billion into R&D, with more than 5,300 scientists and engineers working on new technologies, and more than 10,000 patents. For example, the company created the first FDA-approved biomarker assay for sepsis, providing healthcare workers with potentially life-saving information in under 20 minutes. 

As a trusted partner of researchers from a multitude of industries, Thermo Fisher has a unique insight into customer bottlenecks and barriers to progress, which feeds into its innovation and product development. This insight has also seen it branch out into adjacent business areas, such as product packaging and the running of clinical trials, in its efforts to better enable customers’ positive impacts. 

Engaging on bioethics

As an enabler, Thermo Fisher cannot control how customers use its products. A newspaper report linked its DNA sequencing equipment to the genetic surveillance of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, China. The company subsequently stated that it would halt the selling of genetic sequencers in the region. 

We met with the company to discuss the developments. We were satisfied that Thermo Fisher had taken the issue seriously, and responded by improving its policies and procedures. It has adopted and implemented a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, applicable to all directors, officers, and employees, who receive annual training on the code. The company implemented a multi-level purchasing process designed to prevent the ordering and resale of products to public security bureaux in the region (and has produced a broader list of countries it will not sell to). The company has an approved network of authorised distributors that agree to comply with this purchasing process under the terms of their contract.

Impact area: Better health, saving lives
Primary SDG: SDG 3: Good health and well-being
KPI: # of customers reached
KPI measurement: 400,000 customers

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