Sustainability Success Stories

Success in sustainability at Roche relies groups of passionate individuals pulling together collectively, and motivated through the power of purpose. From driving innovation, accessing renewable energies and recognizing and implementing supplier diversity. From ensuring business continuity in the global pandemic, to implementing co2 reduction initiatives – read more about our sustainability success stories below.

Global Procurement has long recognized the need to provide the platform to enable startup companies that provide those critical and agile innovations to have a place at the table when it comes to delivering solutions that matter for patients. The necessity-driven innovation and agility spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, provides opportunity to harness solidarity around the globe, and unite innovators across pharma, governments, academia, patients, startups and nonprofits to work together to deliver solutions that matter for patients.

On 23 June 2020 people around the world came together (virtually) to deliver exactly that. With 2,467 attendees registered from 101 countries, 5,500+ visits to the dedicated webpage and 128 virtual marketplace booths, this years Partnering for Innovation Summit included a partnership withCorporate Day at Roche, with a total of 23 startups hand-picked from a list of over 350 applications to include innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and researchers bringing their ideas and ambitions to scale-up internationally. Those 23 EIC-funded startups delivered pitches on their offerings and engaged in virtual 1:1 meetings with more than 50 Roche stakeholders from various areas of the organization actively participating in 1:1s. The event also included a keynote speech and panel discussion on “How to Innovate with Purpose?” by Roche Vice Chairman André Hoffmann.

We are delighted to say that less than one month after the event, active discussions are being explored with 7 of the 23 start-ups that attended, with 2 having made it already through to proof of concept pilots. The event brought further clarity in an already established principle at Roche - our future hinges on collaborative partnerships. The important topic of sustainability is our responsibility at an individual level, and as a community. Here at Roche we are proud to facilitate for the benefit of our employees, patients and society at large.

As COVID-19 spread around the world, any contingency planning would not have prepared us for the magnitude of this pandemic. For Roche, ensuring that we can operate in these times and deliver to our patients is fundamental.

As the situation worsened, it was clear that Roche needed one, centralised and organised approach to track the health of our critical vendors: the COVID-19 Infoportal. The portal was designed and rolled out within an impressive four days. The origins started very early in the pandemic. Our teams had advised the business early in January, and started to identify critical suppliers for manufacturing and verify mitigation plans were in place to ensure supply. As the situation escalated, other functions started to assess their vendors, and reach out to them to mitigate risk. When the global spread of COVID-19 reached the inflection point at the end of February, a global SWAT team was rapidly formed to respond to customer needs for a single source of supplier information and other contracting and risk related services. Aligned to group Safety, Health and Environment protocols, the Infoportal has been providing business continuity and contracting resources and information, including:

  • An overview of all supplier business continuity interactions

  • Contract guidance and support for pandemic related needs

  • Simple risk management and business continuity tools

  • Contact information for support

  • Links to other pandemic related resources

The success of the portal depended on equipping our people with what they truly need to manage one of the most rapidly escalating, and severe situations faced by Roche.

In 2019, Senior Sourcing Manager, Lucile-Laure Plesse embarked upon a journey to influence the way that Roche employees in the Paris Affiliate travelled. What started as a one-woman mission to influence sustainable and responsible travel practices soon escalated to receive wide spread support and accolade, both internally within the organization and externally at cross-industry awards, with Roche being recognized as the winner of the ‘Most sustainable travel’ at the Jury Business Travel Awards held in France.

Lucile has long been an advocate of sustainability, and set about her mission to challenge the way in which employees travelled with the aim of reducing Roche’s environmental footprint. She started with an awareness campaign, ensuring every employee regardless of their role or hierarchical position were made aware of the impact of their travel choices. A simple yet effective internal article explained the impact of choosing to take a plane from Paris to Bordeaux, compared with the greener route of using the train. Lucile explained this impact not only through cost efficiency but also the number of trees with the clear visual that showed a saving of 11,390 Kg CO2 equating to 857 trees! She also went a step further to highlight the financial saving of 221 Euros, and the time saving of 1 hour – all of these factors combined being a very difficult rationale to argue.

The next step on Lucile’s journey was to identify sustainability ambassadors within her affiliate, and ones with influence. She convinced a key director to align and communicate her key message, before cascading out further amongst the business. Lucile won the coveted prize for her tenacity in achieving her goal. When questioned by the judges, her (once opposing, now newly allied) stakeholders confirmed that it was Lucile’s passion and consistent messaging, as well as her resilience in the face of rejection that led them to question their existing beliefs and around the importance of sustainability. Lucile has successfully moved the needle in achieving truly sustainable business travel by raising awareness of CO2 impact.

Lucile has written about her journey in the French Procurement publication ‘Decision-Achats’ with a focus on. Here she talks about how procurement can further diversify impact by positioning itself as an essential leader in corporate social responsibility.

So what’s next on Lucile’s agenda? Well, one thing is for certain, she won’t be stopping any time soon! 2020 brings about new opportunities to focus on meetings and congress categories and with her enthusiasm and courage we have no doubt this is just the start on her quest for a sustainable future.

Ouris taking place on 2. September 2020 remotely from Basel, Switzerland. Driven as a response by our key internal stakeholders, the event will provide an interactive platform for senior management at Roche across Diagnostics, Diabetes and Pharmaceuticals to meet with senior leaders from strategic partners and to engage with promising startups. Suppliers are being invited across categories, functions and geographical locations. The overall theme – Accelerate - focuses on speed of execution to make our solutions available to patients faster. The agenda focuses on key topics identified by our internal teams, giving the participants the opportunity to present on key areas of their business and show alignment with the Roche strategies plus their value add. In addition, there will be an expert panel discussion powered by questions submitted by the audience. Our Global Head of Procurement, Marielle Beyers says "Global Supplier Day allows Roche leaders to engage with strategic partners and promising startups to share innovative opportunities that enable us to realise our ultimate goal - making our solutions available to patients faster."

For the first time ever this year, in recognition of our suppliers imperative contributions, we will issue global supplier awards. Suppliers will be awarded in four different categories:

Sustainability Award: Awarded for exceptional sustainability achievements of a supplier in collaboration with Roche

Collaboration Award: Awards the successful and solid partnership with a supplier that is built on trust, reliability and responsibility.

Innovation Award: Rewards innovation and exclusive solutions jointly developed between a supplier and Roche

Business continuity Award: Awards an exceptional supplier who went above and beyond to manage the risks associated with the COVID-19 to ensure business continuity to the business and our patients. For further information, please reach out to

We built a new large Roche Diagnostics manufacturing unit in Suzhou, China which will provide diagnostics products for the whole Asia region. Knowing about the large problems in China with the environment and air quality, we wanted to make our contribution to clean air and environmental protection in China. We installed 2’600 units of photovoltaic panels on the roof of our large production building and warehouse for the whole Asia region at our new Roche Diagnostics site in Suzhou, China. This enabled us to run the whole office building on green power. The photovoltaic panels produce enough power to allow to provide excessive electricity to the local grid. The new site started operation in early 2019.

Safety issues are quite common in the China construction industry. When planning our new big Roche Diagnostics site in Suzhou, China we made no compromise on safety. We designed for an accident-free project execution. The target was to achieve zero Loss Time Injuries (LTI) which means all the people are working safely on site from the very first day until the completion of the construction on site. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of all workers on site was a priority. In the bidding process we selected construction companies and subcontractors that put safety first and had proven track records of ensuring safe working conditions. In total, since the start of the construction work, more than 7 million safe working hours were recorded until completion of construction end of 2018. This is equivalent to more than 3’000 “working years” with zero loss time incidents.

Our Roche Pharma procurement organization in the UK demonstrated that social responsibility and diversity are important for Roche by awarding business to a small, woman-owned creative advertising agency for a marketing project. The small agency’s business model offered opportunities to women for flexible working, including work from home, allowing them to fit family commitments and job under one umbrella. A woman working at the agency expressed that she felt like winning at work and at motherhood. The agency’s team was encouraged to fit work around their lives and was trusted to meet deadlines, allowing them to decide when, where and how they best work. The agency delivered a marketing campaign for the launch of one of our new blockbuster products on time and to our full satisfaction. Promoting this kind of supplier diversity enables us to tap into a pool of talented women. This made a difference because the focus in sourcing is commonly still on men-owned large agencies that can offer a full range of services.

The recognition of human rights ensures that people have a right to be treated with dignity. For example, our RocheAbility network promotes the involvement of Basel and Kaiseraugst employees with disabilities and focuses on the strengths and abilities of each individual. The Basel & Kaiseraugst location has begun to work with inclusive service providers and plans to expand its collaboration. One example is the citizen hospital in Basel, which provides important services to Roche. With the introduction of the inclusive internship program, the local organization also wants to further improve the diversity of its workforce. The internship is open to people with various disabilities, from physical disabilities to neurodevelopmental disorders.


Scientists need innovative technologies to better understand disease biology and, ultimately, enhance the discovery and development of new medicines.

The challenge:

It is crucial to find the right partner to develop test panels, allowing hundreds of human genetic mutations to be examined at the same time. Only very few suppliers are able to perform clinical testing under high regulatory requirements.

The solution:

Roche scientists and procurement specialists together selected a partner to develop tests meeting the US government compliance standard and, at the same time, reducing costs significantly. The test panel accelerates drug development and leads to safer and more effective therapeutic solutions for the patient.

Roche is committed to developing mutually advantageous business relationships with diverse and small businesses globally. We have supplier diversity included in our Supplier Code of Conduct as one of the sustainability principles. In 2018 our spend with small companies in the U.S. was $808 million which accounts for 14% of our spend there. We are equality focussing on Supplier Diversity in Europe, Middle East & Africa and in 2020 attended the Dow Jones European Diversity Summit for ‘Growing Corporate Impact’ where we participated in a panel discussion.

We believe diversity fosters innovation and innovation creates competition. We effectively support small and diverse businesses via capability building, expanding their footprint and helping them with supplier financing options to manage their cash flow. We support advocacy organisations like Diversity Alliance for Science, WEConnect International, business matchmaking sessions and provide speakers for supplier diversity events. These venues provide us with opportunities to meet new suppliers and vice versa.

The situation

Special tailored resins are required as raw materials for the manufacturing of biological drug substance. We source them from key suppliers. In the collaboration with them we identified a significant supply interruption risk. Ensuring the continuity of supply is of major importance to avoid negative impacts on production and supply of medicines to patients.

Our approach

We worked closely with the suppliers, setting clear expectations by sharing Roche's business continuity and sustainability standards and we learned from them about their own programs. Based on this, we conducted a deeper analysis to understand and address gaps between the approaches on both sides. We made amendments to the risk management and business continuity plans in close collaboration with these suppliers.

The outcome

Through the activities we now have a better understanding of supply interruption risks and we have taken action to close the gaps. This has reduced the risk scores and improved security of supply. The value lies in mitigating potential risks, and also fostering the close relationship with each supplier. The suppliers now stand out as best practice examples of collaborating on risk management.

We successfully established a global fleet council that provided full transparency of the economic footprint for each individual car from our 164 sites worldwide. We identified preferred fleet service providers and established reduction targets for fuel consumption and carbon emission in close collaboration with human resources, procurement and business stakeholders. This triggered the fleet companies to offer new car models, including hybrid and electrical vehicles that have lower eco footprint while ensuring high safety standards. During the course of the last 10 years, we were able to reduce the eco footprint per car by more than 30% and we saved more than 3 million Swiss francs in fuel cost. We also offered courses in safe and economic driving to employees in order to increase awareness and drive behavior change.

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