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An Interview with Andrew Copestake Vice President - BD Europe

An Interview with Andrew Copestake Vice President - BD Europe


ICON’s core competency is project management, built up over the last fifteen years managing complex projects and underpinned by comprehensive and consistent processes which conform to the ISO9001:2000 quality certification.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

1. Can you describe ICON for me in a single sentence?

ICON is a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

2. How and when did ICON start?

ICON was founded in 1990 by Dr. John Climax and Dr. Ronan Lambe. Originally launched with just five staff all based in Dublin, we grew organically for our first 10 years, making our first acquisition in 2000. We now have 3000 staff operating from 41 offices across 27 countries.

3. Why do you think ICON is so successful?

The quality of our people has been critical to our success. Through their efforts we have been able to develop strong relationships with our clients, who include eight of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies. By maintaining our focus on consistently delivering outstanding service,  we have built up the trust of these organistions. The fact that our growth has been predominently organic has supported this drive for consistency and meant that we have developed a strong culture which encourages people to focus on understanding and meeting our clients changing needs.

4. What makes ICON different from the competition?

ICON’s core competency is project management, built up over the last fifteen years managing complex projects and underpinned by comprehensive and consistent processes which conform to the ISO9001:2000 quality certification.

Ally to this, the extensive therapeutic and scientific knowledge that resides in the organization, and we have the capability to consistently solve the challenges that arise during clinical trials, each of which is the equivalent of a unique scientific study.

While we prefer to allocate dedicated resources to projects we have the operational flexibility to work in whatever way is most appropriate for our clients.  This adaptability is a key characteristic we look for in the recruitment of our staff, in who we invest significantly in training and development. Through our network of worldwide offices, we have developed strong relationships with investigative sites, who are key partners in ensuring the successful management of clinical trials across different continents, cultures and regulatory regimes.

5. Why work for ICON?

Apart from joining a market leader, we are committed to providing our staff with all the training & development and support to develop their career as far as they want to take it.

Not only do we pride ourselves on recruiting and retaining dynamic and outstanding staff, we have the capability to support and encourage them to expand their career in any global location.

We have a great culture which is professional, but friendly, fast paced but relaxed, challenging but highly rewarding, so although we work hard, we certainly have fun too!

We also care deeply about our staff and we offer flexible working options to help facilitate a work life balance. This includes offering part-time positions as well as job share, flexibility with start and finish times or working from home. In addition to this we offer career breaks to established staff and this has been very widely used.

Finally, when people join ICON, we think the challenges they tackle, the quality of people they work with and the support they receive with their career development makes them want to stay and have a prosperous career with us. 

6. How has ICON developed over the last 18 months?

Our strategic focus has been on driving internal growth in our core Phase I – Phase IV clinical trials business, while supplementing this segment with acquisitions in complementary service areas where appropriate. For example in 2003 we acquired Medeval, a UK based Phase I facility, providing strategic product development services and in July 2004 we acquired a 70% interest in Beacon Bioscience, Inc, a leading specialist CRO in the Medical Imaging field.

7. How is business looking for ICON at the moment?

In our last reported quarter of fiscal year 2006 we were awarded record net new business awards of $140 million and with a continued strong business flow we expect to maintain this momentum through the rest of the fiscal year.

8. Where is ICON planning to be in 5 years time?

We are aiming to maintain a market leadership position within the outsourced development services market. We believe the current trend towards the more strategic and global use of outsourced services is acting as a catalyst to growth within our market. Goldman Sachs estimate that the total market opportunity for outsourced contract research services will rise from $11.8 billion in 2004 to $22.9bn in 2009. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 14.2% over the period.

However, we also believe that our customers will continue to employ and evaluate different outsourcing models. Development Services firms, such as ICON, need the flexibility to support these different models and continually demonstrate how they can add value throughout the drug development cycle, if the current level of outsourcing is to continue. Hence, we will continue to look at the services we offer, the technology we use and our operational reach to ensure these are aligned to customer requirements. We will evolve our services through either in-house development or where appropriate acquisition.