Reserach & Innovation

Experts Statements: Lukas von Hippel, Pharma Waldhof

The Winning Formula: Chemists Who Can Collaborate Will Thrive in Pharmaceutical Research, Experts Predict

12.12.2016 -

Despite tremendous challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry, it continues with its commitment to innovation and the discovery of novel drugs to address unmet medical needs. Indeed, medicinal chemists face a challenge of their own. Trying to survive in a changing environment where pharma is focusing on biologics drug candidates will require chemists to adapt.

CHEManager International asked R&D experts of chemical and pharmaceutical companies to elaborate on their research strategy and share their opinion with our readers. In detail, we interviewed professionals ranging from CEOs to heads of R&D and process development about:


The crucial success factors in chemical and pharmaceutical research.

Lukas von Hippel: ŒSome success factors did not change, and may remain: Quality, up-scaling, and safe and stable processes. However, this is only one part of the equation: In a globalized world, intercultural competencies become more relevant. For R&D, project management, a stable supply chain, efficient communication — internal and external, and management of all regulatory aspects are musts. In addition, the borders between chemistry, biotech and biology weaken, not only at high-end molecules but also in the production of feedstock. Interdisciplinary understanding will become more relevant as it was some decades ago.


The war of talent is on.

Lukas von Hippel,
Pharma Waldhof


The role of information technology tools in developing reaction routes and processes.

Lukas von Hippel: ŒWhen design of experiments was introduced, it worked in some cases, in most cases it did not. Today, computerized support of R&D is standard. However, the prediction of reactions remains difficult as long as we are not able to model reactions in total. At the end, every software works by algorithm, and the output can be only as good as the algorithms are. Algorithms are getting better, as AlphaGo showed, amazingly winning Go games. The day software will be able to successfully offer recipes for lab experiments may change our understanding of intellectual property (IP) and proof of evidence.

Challenges and changes affecting the work of R&D chemists in the future.

Lukas von Hippel: ŒThe war of talent is on: First, Europe has to be attractive for skilled people. Intercultural challenges will come and have to be solved. Second, we will see that work will partly continue to move away from Europe, so the challenge of managing international cooperation, already in R&D status, will increase. Third, interdisciplinary cooperation will become more relevant. The ability to understand others and communicate between disciplines may become even more relevant than it is today.