Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda has big plans in Bratislava. For now, they are not linked to the development of new medicines, but to IT technologies.
The company's Innovation Capability Center (ICC) in Bratislava, which it ceremonially launched in early April, is expected to drive its data, digital and technology agenda forward.
“The centre will play a key role in the successful digital transformation of the company,” said Gabriele Ricci, chief data and technology officer at Takeda, at the opening of the new premises in the recently reconstructed historical industrial building Pradiareň 1900, close to the main bus station in the Slovak capital.
300 new IT jobs in Bratislava
Takeda has had its sales representation in Slovakia from 1994.
Over the next several years, it plans to double its investment in data and digital, upskilling thousands of its employees while building in-house capabilities to deliver transformative therapies and better experiences for patients. With an investment of more than €9 million into the ICC in Bratislava, Takeda currently anticipates the creation of approximately 300 jobs in the fields of data, digital and emerging technologies. They will develop digital and data solutions for patients as well as the company’s workforce.
“For example, we are building companion apps that support patients along their journey or tolls for early diagnosis,” said Ricci, adding that apps for their employees would help them become more productive and more focused.
Ricci outlined two reasons why Takeda had chosen Bratislava over other possible locations. First, it is centrally located in Europe and close to Takeda’s hubs in Vienna and Zurich. In Vienna, it has R&D centres, some manufacturing sites and some capacities from its Plasma-Derived Therapies business unit. The second reason is the opportunity to tap into the technical talent in the area, including students from local universities.
“We see growing maturity in IT practices; there are talents with the right skills we would like to have,” said Ricci.
Slovakia still able to provide experts
The Business Service Centre Forum (BSCF) industry association running under AmCham has welcomed the launch of the centre.
“Their investment in the area and promised creation of over 300 jobs highlights a joint commitment to local talent in data, artificial intelligence and digital capabilities,” Peter Rusiňák, coordinator of BSCF at Amcham, told The Slovak Spectator. “Takeda’s innovation centre also perfectly supports Slovakia on its transformative journey from a labour-intensive economy towards a knowledge-based competitive future.”
Rusiňák noted that over the last five years no business service centre with 1,000 or more employees has been established in Slovakia, but some smaller centres with 100-400 employees were launched mostly in finance, IT and customer operations.
“That is a good sign that Slovakia is still capable of providing qualified experts – we call it a healthy indigenous growth of the industry,” Rusiňák told The Slovak Spectator. “Takeda ICC has proven that Bratislava continues to be a premium location with the availability of emerging technological talent and technically creative people.”
The Bratislava Self-governing Region (BSK) welcomes the opening of the centre. It hopes that it will draw top IT talent to Bratislava, encourage smart Slovaks to return as well as help Slovakia to settle its debt in R&D.
“The share of total expenditures on R&D is the highest among all regions in the Bratislava region, but it is still only 65 percent of the EU average,” said Juraj Droba, head of the Bratislava Self-governing Region, during the ceremonial opening. “And then we have a significant and long-term outflow of research and research capacities abroad.”
So far, the centre has succeeded in fulfilling its recruitment plan while they already have several dozen employees.
“In next few months we want to have more than 300 jobs, and we can scale to even more,” said Ricci, adding that they are already working with universities to attract new talent.
Maroš Čuchta, head of the ICC, specified that their team features experts not only from Slovakia, but from Greece, Italy and other countries. They are also interested in Ukrainian IT experts that have fled their home country due to the Russian invasion.
“People from all over the world are welcomed here,” said Čuchta, adding that they offer an interesting package in case of relocation.”
In the Bratislava centre they offer flexibility, enabling remote work, but they see face-to-face cooperation as important in creating new solutions and innovations, noted Čuchta.
Ricci hopes that the design of the centre located in the historical industrial building will draw employees to work in person.
“We hope that this environment will actually foster this kind of collaboration; when we want to co-create and solve the challenges of our patients we actually need to spend time together,” said Ricci.