Tecans Jan Timmers view of tomorrows trends and training

June 1, 2003
Carren Bersch: As Tecan continues to grow as a global player in the clinical diagnostics industry, what role do you see the company taking in that market? Jan Timmers: Tecan will continue to be a leading supplier of automated solutions to the global diagnostics companies and their customers, such as blood banks for infectious disease screening, blood typing and nucleic acid-based tests. Tecan will also continue to be a major supplier for pre-analytical and post-analytical platforms. Bersch: What are the major trends that will most affect the industrys future? Timmers: Two key trends in the global clinical diagnostics industry will have a pronounced effect on the future of the industry: an increase in regulatory needs and nucleic acid-based diagnostics and therapies. Bersch: Do you believe demand will heighten for clinical diagnostics products in the next five years? Why? Timmers: There will be a definite increase in demand for clinical diagnostics products, particularly in the area of nucleic acid-based testing because of the potential benefit for improved therapy, cost-effective healthcare and rapid diagnosis.Bersch: Which of Tecans major products in the clinical diagnostics area has the most potential? Timmers: Tecan has broad potential to leverage our knowledge, expertise and portfolio of products utilized in BioPharma research for the benefit of clinical laboratories. For example, one of Tecans most promising product areas is our IVD-compliant Liquid Handling robotics automation platform. This state-of-the-art platform has wide application in many areas of traditional clinical testing, as well as molecular diagnostics.Bersch: Will your company continue to focus on its main categories of laboratory logistics, immunology, blood grouping and molecular diagnostics, or do you plan to branch into other categories in the future? Timmers: Tecan will continue our main focus on these categories, but we will continue to investigate new niche areas, such as pathology.Bersch: How much consolidation do you predict there will be among manufacturers in this sector, and what drives these deals? Timmers: As a key supplier to the large diagnostic companies and end-users in this market sector, I anticipate there will be consolidation driven by regulatory demands, cost pressure and the need to have a worldwide service and support network.Bersch: In your view, what are the most significant challenges facing clinical laboratories in the next five years? Timmers: Clinical laboratories will face the added pressure of increased costs vs. the opportunity for better therapies using nucleic acid-based diagnostic methods. Another big hurdle facing clinical laboratories is finding qualified laboratory personnel. Bersch: How will Tecan help labs meet those challenges? Timmers: Tecans contribution to the clinical laboratory is to provide automation platforms that address labor- intensive processes and offer user-friendly interfacing. In addition, Tecan offers a comprehensive training program for clinical lab personnel on the proper use of Tecan equipment. These training programs are tailored to the individual needs of the customer. Bersch: How might the current shortage of clinical laboratory professionals affect Tecan product designs? Timmers: The current shortage of clinical laboratory professionals is a global challenge and underscores the importance of Tecans product designs for easy-to-use, automated solutions with an ongoing emphasis on important product attributes, such as reliability and intelligent software. It is these features that Tecan considers in designing products to compensate for the staff shortages in the clinical laboratory.Bersch: How does Tecan view physicians office laboratories, one of the fastest-growing laboratory segments?Timmers: We are not a player in this physician office laboratory market yet, although we have the technology required, such as miniaturization, that allows us to enter through OEM development for diagnostic corporate accounts.Bersch: How has the emergence of these labs shaped Tecan business strategies?Timmers: Again, we are not a player in the physician office lab market yet, but we are taking a closer look at OEM development as an entry point for our diagnostic corporate accounts. Bersch: How has the threat of bioterrorism affected strategic planning at Tecan?Timmers: Tecan automation solutions are of interest to major diagnostic companies and U.S. government institutions, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. We operate under strict confidentiality agreements that ensure safety, security and readiness for clinical laboratories to respond to bioterrorism threats.Bersch: Has any aspect of Operation Iraqi Freedom affected Tecan strategic planning? Timmers: Operation Iraqi Freedom has not had a direct effect on Tecan strategic planning, other than the acceleration of installation of systems to private laboratories and government facilities that would be potentially impacted. Bersch: What effect has the current lagging economy had on Tecan business and, in your opinion, on the clinical diagnostics industry as a whole?Timmers: Despite the lackluster economy and the fact that the clinical diagnostics industry overall has slowed, this market sector at Tecan has done extremely well in particular niches. For example, many high-volume clinical labs in the United States have benefited from the simplicity, performance and flexibility of a Tecan Clinical Workstation for EIA and microplate assays.Bersch: What is the Tecan strategy for Web-based activity?Timmers: Tecans website is one of the most important ways to communicate with our customers and utilize remote diagnostics for rapid support and service.Bersch: How important is online interaction with Tecan customers, and do you expect that interaction will expand in the future? Timmers: Online interaction with customers will continue to be critical. The service and support network is strained across the industry, and we see online support as an attractive and effective method to assist our customers. Additionally, we have supported online forums for Tecan users in Europe, and we plan to expand upon these capabilities for the U.S. clinical market. Bersch: To what extent is education a part of the Tecan marketing plan?Timmers: Education and customer training are a significant part of Tecans marketing plan. For example, at our U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Tecan has a comprehensive training facility. Our unique training programs enable customers to learn about Tecans products, including how to operate them properly to make their laboratories more efficient. This program is ongoing, is well-attended and guarantees the customer will be properly trained, which decreases any likelihood of operator error when using Tecan equipment. Additionally, Tecan supports continuing education via workshops, poster presentations and sponsorships for industry organizations and associations.
Jan Timmers, a Dutch citizen, holds advanced degrees in biochemistry and clinical chemistry. His professional background includes extensive biopharmaceutical experience in applications, sales and product management. Timmers has been with Tecan in Europe since 1992, where he has held increasingly responsible management positions in marketing and business development. He currently holds the position of Head of BioPharma and Clinical Diagnostics Business Areas, and he is an integral member of Tecans Executive Leadership Committee.                                                                             
June 2003: Vol. 35, No. 6
© 2003 Nelson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.