Known for its cutting-edge treatments for everything from eye diseases to cancer, neuromuscular diseases, and infectious diseases, it’s no surprise that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has a deep commitment to promoting and fostering innovation among its employees. The Tarrytown-based company strives to make sure its culture is “rooted not only in science-based innovation but also in a spirited and collaborative mindset,” explains Neil Stahl, PhD, executive vice president of research and development. One way the company does this is internal programs that keep employees exchanging key ideas and strategies. These activities, Stahl says, “help us sustain the importance of innovation at Regeneron.”
An annual event akin to a scientific or medical conference, more than 150 teams and individuals from all across the company prepare detailed poster presentations on their work (usually scientific research but also inclusive support functions), which are displayed in Regeneron’s largest auditorium. It’s a rare opportunity for employees to see the breadth and depth of what the company is working on in an internal-only “safe space” for intellectual exchange.
An institution since the company was founded, these informal monthly Friday-afternoon sessions allow one team to highlight recent research findings and then open the floor up for vigorous discussion/debate — with beverages, of course.
Senior scientific leaders host a two-day intensive Biotech@Regeneron program twice a year, where they explain to employees how medicine goes from an idea to a functional therapeutic. Employees are encouraged to prompt questions/discussions on how the company’s particular processes work and can be improved.
A central mission of the company’s Industrial Operations and Product Supply (IOPS) team is the drive to continuously innovate and improve. Its SLIM (an acronym for Simple, Logical Improvements Matter) program challenges every employee to look continuously for opportunities to improve safety, quality, and efficiency. Each year, Regeneron announces winners of the SLIMMY awards, which select from thousands of unique projects — often just small things that show even little innovations can make a big difference. Recent winning projects include ergonomic-related improvements, like a needle decapper, drum conditioner, ergonomic raw-material scoop, or redesign of workspaces. Other submissions have involved improving employee safety, such as reducing fall risk by containing or redirecting potential spilled/leaking liquids.