21 November 2018
Andrea Biffi, SOFAR’s CEO, summarizes our company's recent growth in an extensive interview with Fortune Italia: "Today we are present with our own facilities in various countries and have also built partnerships in the rest of Europe and the whole of the Middle East. In recent years we have begun researching and developing technologically advanced products for new therapeutic areas. Our hard work has led our brand to become among the top 10 in the field of self-medication, in addition to being the market leader in gastroenterology." Biffi also talks about the importance of corporate responsibility and how SOFAR has partnered with Sport Senza Frontiere to make a positive impact for children. Further, he outlines the objectives that will guide activities in 2019, including: growth, innovation, social responsibility and strengthening of links with the territory. The interview discusses state of the Italian pharmaceutical industry, which Biffi believes represents production excellence and is one of the pillars of the national economy capable of creating employment and distinguishing itself for substantial investments in Research & Development. More good news, he points out: Italian pharmaceuticals will become more internationally competitive. In Biffi’s opinion, the key is to embrace Revolution 4.0 with confidence and passion when adopting innovative devices in processes and products. Finally, Biffi reflects on the concept of success. "It is a team game,” he declares. “It is the achievement of shared objectives, challenges overcome together. Success, for those working in the pharmaceutical field, is the awareness of having created products or solutions that will have a positive impact on the lives of other people."
For SOFAR, 2018 has been a distinguished year in the company history as it marked its 50th year in business. The company, which specializes in pharmaceutical products, dietary supplements and high-quality medical devices, continues to grow with a current turnover in excess of 100 million euros and 350 employees. "The link with the territory in which the company operates is being strengthened and, at the same time, our international presence is growing," says SOFAR Chief Executive Officer Andrea Biffi. What goals have you reached in 2018? We now have our own branches in various countries in the world (Switzerland, Romania, Lithuania, Russia and USA) and, through our partners, we are present in the rest of Europe and the whole of the Middle East. In recent years we have commenced development of products for new therapeutic areas and our brand is now in the top 10 for the self-medication sector as well as being a market leader in the gastroenterology field. Undoubtedly, another important moment in our history was the creation of Alf-X, now Senhance®. This breakthrough led us to become the only company in the world to have developed an alternative for current robotic surgery. Alf-X was so impressive, it won the interest of an esteemed colossus like TransEnterix, which acquired our robotic division in 2015, strengthening Alf-X and transforming it into the first device for digital laparoscopy. SOFAR has also become a shareholder in TransEnterix. SOFAR has been moving forward on various fronts. In 2017, we invested in a project of corporate social responsibility by developing a partnership with Sport Senza Frontiere, an association that promotes the right to access to sport for children in economically disadvantaged circumstances. This initiative, which was born precisely to celebrate our own important birthday, contributes to the growth and development of these youngsters. Italy has overtaken Germany in European pharmaceutical production (31.2 billion against 30 for the Germans), a growth driven by exports. What do you think? The pharmaceutical industry is one of the pillars of the Italian economy, a productive excellence. Pharmaceuticals is an expanding sector that expresses some of the greatest Italian qualities. The data reflect this scenario, highlighting the need to continue investing in a thriving industry that creates jobs and is distinguished by significant investments in Research & Development. The pharmaceutical industry is proving to be a very sensitive thermometer of the economic situation. How do you judge the current financial budget with respect to business world? The investment in drugs and medical devices can be useful if it emphasizes dialogue and comparison. Pharmaceutics has been the subject of long discussions, including possible cuts and steps backwards. However, we are talking about a production sector of strategic importance for our country and I am confident that this will be the motivation for the choices to be made. The pharmaceutical sector remains one of the driving forces and a pride of Italy. Investments in pharmaceutical Research & Development are increasing. In 2017 drug companies in Italy invested 2.8 billion in research (1.5) and production plants (1.3) with high added value, an amount that has grown by more than 20% since 2012. What do you think about these data? Companies in the pharmaceutical sector contribute to the growth of the national economy through their abilities to invest in R & D and innovate. These two aspects have always been definitive of SOFAR. Collaboration with prestigious universities and investment in R & D are the characteristics that have allowed us to grow over these 50 years and to consolidate ourselves as a leading national company. To be internationally competitive, makers of pharmaceuticals must embrace Revolution 4.0 with confidence, adopting innovative devices for both processes and products. What goals have you set for SOFAR for 2019? Our goal is to continue on the path of growth while focusing increasingly on innovation and social responsibility. The link with the territory in which we belong is strong and we will invest more in this direction because our success is the result of teamwork that combines superior skills and abilities. What is your definition of success? It's a team game. It’s the achievement of shared objectives, challenges overcome together. Success, for those working in the pharmaceutical field, is the awareness of having created products or solutions that will have a positive impact on the lives of other people. In the last 40 years people's life expectancy has increased by 10 years, thanks in large part to the pharmaceutical sector. What do you think about this? It is the main reason why we work with passion and focus: to contribute to increasing life expectancy while, at the same time, improving health status and quality of life itself. The added value of the pharmaceutical industry is represented by its human resources in this direction, too. It is not only machines that increase production and produce benefits for patients, above all, it is the devoted people who set them in motion and oversee them. Our country has a lot to give in this direction.