Prof. Michael Popp, CEO of Bionorica als Distinguished Guest Online at the Entrepreneurial School®.
Bionorica has long been a global player in the production of effective and compatible herbal medicines. In 1989, Michael Popp, then 29 years old, working as a pharmacist, took over the company founded in 1933 by his grandfather Josef Popp and has since then consistently continued given path of the family business. In doing so, he coined the term phytoneering, expressing the connection between the effective power of plants and the possibilities of modern pharmaceutical research.
With artificial intelligence and the latest fully automated technology, such as the use of drones, Bionorica cultivates medicinal plants GMO-free and organic, and extracts their active ingredients using patented processes. Despite a wide range of variable parameters, such as climate, location and soil quality, they can assure a 99% accuracy of the herbal products with the help of mixing ratios calculated by AI. "In this respect, we are unique worldwide," says Popp. The large volumes of data obtained not only enable ever better quality, but also more individualized adaptation of herbal medicines. This is consistent with the empirical medicine based on real data already used by his grandfather.
Michael Popp is also proud of the study results conducted under strict guidelines and the increasing international recognition of his herbal medicines. For example, the standard double-blind studies (in which neither the patient nor the doctor know whether an active ingredient or a placebo is being administered) have successfully shown that his herbal medicine is sufficient for uncomplicated urinary tract infections, for example, and that it is possible to avoid taking synthetic antibiotics, which sometimes cause resistance. This is certainly a result of a certain willingness to take risks, since the costs of such studies are easily in the double-digit millions.
But for Popp, these investments as well as intensive research are an essential part of his recipe for success. In this context, he emphasizes the importance of Innsbruck as a location with Phytovalley Tyrol and its unique research cluster - "we conduct our pharmacological research in a network, seek out the best institutes worldwide and execute every clinical study with an expert system. I think that's the best way." However, the fact that many regulatory authorities, even within Europe, follow a wide variety of regulations and in some cases are not familiar with the subject at all, means that the bureaucratic burden increases enormously. Popp is relaxed about the labeling of possible interactions of the ingredients with synthetic drugs: "After all, the plants were there before and have been used by people for thousands of years, so it should be the other way around with the labeling."
Michael Popp sees further strong potential for Bionorica in the areas of nutritional supplements and purely herbal disinfectants, but not everything can be done at the same time. Finding new medicinal plants, developing even better products and further research into the microbiome and its influence on our health are also at the top of his list of priorities. "Nature shows us the way. Natural science has always meant observing nature and then deriving the best from it for human beings," and that needs to be continued with heart, soul and a spirit of research in the coming years.