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ICGEB modernises IT to deliver more services to member states

Region: Italy, South Africa, and India
Industry: International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)

International agency chooses UNiverse Path on SAP S/4HANA to improve transparency and accountability

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Industry: International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)

Region: Italy, South Africa, and India

Client challenge: The small, international organisation needed to bring together disparate systems into an integrated technology platform to deliver on its mandate

Solution: SAP S/4HANA created a digital core to connect all of ICGEB’s locations. Capgemini’s UNiversePath provided the accelerator to fit ICGEB requirements and budget


  • Tracing resources from A to Z and knowing how they are used and allocated
  • Procurement units are now working on the same platform in real time, no matter where they are located
  • More transparency and efficient use of resources

The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) was originally established as a special project by the United Nations. Independent since 1994, ICGEB runs 46 state-of-the-art laboratories; the main facilities are in Trieste, Italy, New Delhi, India, and Cape Town, South Africa. In addition, the agency also operates an interactive network with more than 60 member states. The ICGEB plays a key role in biotechnology and sustainable global development through excellence in research, training, and technology transfer to industry.

Fulfilling an ambitious mandate

ICGEB is a small organisation pursuing an ambitious mission to make a difference in the world. One of its main challenges is to satisfy the expectations of its donors, partners, and member states. Science progresses very quickly and demands substantial resources and equipment to remain innovative. ICGEB needs to make sure it leverages all of its resources to meet the lofty expectations of the member states.

Whereas it had utilised disparate systems at each of its locations, ICGEB needed a single, integrated technology platform that could deliver efficiency, transparency, and accountability, so that reporting would be seamless. This was also an opportunity to link the different locations more closely to support its mandate.

“Adopting an ERP system was not an easy choice for ICGEB, but we saw the advantages of making this change,” says Maria Luisa Fichera, Chief, Legal and Administration, ICGEB.

Connecting the organisation

ICGEB spent months searching, scouting, mapping, and networking with similar international organisations already using ERP systems. The agency found the majority of satisfied users recommended an SAP solution, and it chose to partner with Capgemini, which possessed substantial experience working with similar organisations and SAP expertise.

The partners selected the SAP S/4HANA platform as the entry point for a comprehensive IT transformation. The first step was to update the infrastructure and administration to get ready for a move to the cloud and to benefit from its advantages.

Capgemini leveraged its UNiversePath accelerator solution, which was based on the SAP S/4HANA platform and specifically developed by Capgemini for organisations that operate on a limited budget. UNiversePath offered modules that could be adapted to fit ICGEB-specific requirements and enabled the organisation to perform daily operations and activities.

“Capgemini was really helpful and supportive during the process. Its experience with international organisations means it knew how to play a guidance role to make recommendations during the process, and that was very valuable,” says Fichera.

Delivering innovation more efficiently

While the implementation was still in its early stages, ICGEB could already see initial positive results. The agency quickly gained the ability to trace resources from A to Z and understand how they are used and allocated. ICGEB is performing better and is able to access data faster.

The SAP S/4HANA implementation also fine-tuned and harmonised 30 years of processes and procedures. In some cases, different locations had adopted their own existing processes, or old procedures were still in place. ICGEB reviewed all of these and kept only the ones that served the organisation.

“Something we did not consider at the beginning was a cultural change to the way the organisation operates now,” says Fichera. “It really created best practices in how a team can work together to achieve results, and it fostered a team spirit now that everything is interconnected. For example, all the procurement units are now working on the same platform in real time, no matter where they are located.”

The agency’s relationship with its partners has also improved. “Moving to SAP S/4HANA allowed us to be more accountable to our member states and be more responsive to their needs in terms of reporting,” says Fichera, “and also in terms of transparency and efficient use of resources allocated to ICGEB. Internally, it allows us to perform a better, more efficient job because it reduces the time for the operation and for the activities of the staff.”