Diabetes has been labelled the epidemic of the 21st century, affecting around one in 11 adults worldwide. A vast number of these patients will require insulin therapy, and last year the International Diabetes Federation estimated that 12 per cent of global health expenditure is related to diabetes. That equates to a market worth a massive US$673 billion annually.

Swiss company Ypsomed is a world leader in insulin delivery devices that is consistently increasing its share in that very lucrative market. CEO Simon Michel believes that this is partly due to the dual nature of their business.

“We have changed the rules of the game and this is the reason why we are so successful and have been able to grow quickly,” he explains. “Basically we have two businesses: B2C is the business that we have been developing that is a portfolio of diabetes care products marketed under the mylife™ Diabetescare brand. This accounts for close to 50 per cent of our revenue. The other part is our B2B, where we develop and manufacture custom injection systems [!pens!] for global pharmaceutical and biotech companies.”

It is the B2B side that has seen rapid growth and in 2010, Ypsomed made the brave and ultimately beneficial decision to invest more than CHF100 million back into new product development and manufacturing infrastructure. It was this that proved to be a real game-changer; investing time into discovering the needs and wants of their customers, and money into the innovation of products and manufacturing methods, meant that Ypsomed could get tailored solutions to market in a matter of months when it used to take around four years. Simon calls this the product platform approach, where a wide range of base products can quickly and easily be customised to suit individual requirements.