Cover Story: Global Biotech Report
By Stefanie Ramsperber
From the May/June 2014 issue
It may be a tad too early to say the good times are back in the biotech industry, but things certainly are “hotting up,” as they like to say in Great Britain—and, fittingly, the UK is at the forefront of this resurgent growth sector. So we’re opening this year’s annual global tour of the biotech/pharma industry with a look at Manchester’s remarkable development as one of the world’s leading centers for innovation, particularly in the realm of biohealth research. Manchester has it all, from some of the world’s most advanced centers for the study of major diseases, to labs exploring new ways to analyze health data and the National Graphene Institute, which promises to unlock revolutionary applications for the use of the super-strong, ultra-light wonder material, graphene.
From the gateway in the UK, we travel across Europe and give you a progress report on the countries and locations that are doubling down on their investment in biotech growth, which our friends across the pond like to quantify in three distinct segments: Red (pharma, medical), White (industrial) and Green (nutrition technology). Then, it’s back to the U.S., which isn’t quite so fussy (and biotech tends to encompass the pharma sector as well), where we’ll give you an update on some of the state biotech leaders. Our itinerary includes the new Biosciences Training Center, now under construction in Georgia, and a look at the Life Sciences Greenhouses in Pennsylvania, which nurture the seedlings of innovation until they’re ready to blossom into commercial use.
In the UK, Manchester is a city of medical and technology pioneers. From the industrial revolution, the splitting of the atom, and the first modern computer to the first test-tube baby—Manchester claims to be synonymous with innovation.
The region is home to 250 biotechnology companies that employ more than 20,000 people and four universities which have a strong track record in working with industry on biotech projects. Manchester, for example, houses the largest cancer research and treatment center in Europe and the UK’s largest children’s hospital.
A GLOBAL GATEWAY IN THE UK
As a member of the European Super League of biomedical clusters, and the European City of Science for 2016, Manchester offers excellent international connectivity and unique gateway organizations and support systems to help companies gain an important foothold in the National Health Service (NHS). “Manchester continues to go from strength to strength as a city of innovation, ideas and delivery,” says Tim Newns, CEO of MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency. “The concept of highly connected urban science parks linked with academia, the NHS and excellent connectivity is enabling the city to gain recognition as a top location for biomedical companies around the world,” he adds.
In fact, with over 30 NHS organizations, Manchester has a significant proportion of the UK National Health Service market with a population of 11 million within a one-hour drive. Some notable entries over the past year include Hitachi European Big Data Laboratory and Allscripts, a U.S.-based company that established their EMEA headquarters in Manchester. In addition to this, there have been a number of spin-offs and start-ups, for example Elucigene, Reacta Biotech or Zilico Nexcelom.
Manchester has a proven track record in establishing partnerships between industry, academia and NHS. According to Newns, “Manchester is well placed to lead in this area with Europe’s largest clinical/academic campus located here. It is closely connected with a wide range of incubator and growth facilities ideal for all stages of a company’s life cycle. This—coupled with a large, stable talent pool and relatively low costs of operation and living—is a winning formula for business innovation and investment.”
In order to help business gain access to the market and to ensure that innovation that can meet unmet medical needs is adopted by the market, the city has developed a combination of gateway organizations: Northwest Ehealth (NWEH), Manchester Academic Health Science Center (MAHSC), Manchester Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT), The Farr Institute and University of Manchester Intellectual Property and TrusTech.
“NWEH benefits greatly from its location in Manchester and its strong relationship with the other elements of the health eco-system and digital economy,” says NWEH CEO Martin Gibson.
The organization is a not-for-profit partnership between the University of Manchester, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Salford Clinical Commissioning Group. It develops innovative software that unlocks the value of healthcare data for the benefit of patients. The goal is to provide a software solution to the NHS and the commercial sector and manage data for over 700 million patient events. “The unique set of circumstances has attracted a lot of interest,” Gibson says.
One example is GlaxoSmithKline. The company came to work with NWEH to get the benefits of the integrated systems. “Quite recently we have got an understanding with Hitachi, who have set up their big data laboratory in Manchester. We and our partner organizations have the resources to help them with what they want to do in the healthcare sector,” Gibson continues.
Manchester Academic Health Science Center (MAHSC) is a partnership between The University of Manchester and six leading NHS organizations. They want to give patients and clinicians rapid access to the latest research discoveries, and improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care.
The Center has been designated as an Academic Health Science Center, one of only six in the UK. It is becoming a major biomedical hub, providing clinical and research leadership and helping health care organizations reap the benefits of research and innovation to drive improvements in care.
Manchester Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) forms a cornerstone of the MAHSC Health Technology Hub. It uses its Innovation Development Pathway to facilitate collaborations between clinicians, scientists, engineers and industry to develop innovative technology for patient benefits. MAHSC partners, for example, with Hitachi, which launched Hitachi’s European Big Data Laboratory in October 2013. The laboratory aims to create technologies in response to global needs.
The Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research comprises four nodes distributed across the UK and led from University of Manchester. With a 17.5 million pounds research award from a 10-funder consortium, plus additional 20 million pounds capital funds from the Medical Research Council, the Farr Institute delivers cutting-edge research linking electronic health data with other forms of research and routinely collected data; it also builds capacity in health informatics research. To facilitate collaboration across the four nodes and secure patient data, Farr Institute provides the physical and electronic infrastructure.
Finally, TRUSTECH is an NHS organization that improves healthcare through the development of innovative products and services. It works with innovation from within the NHS as well as from business to develop and evaluate technologies for the NHS market. It has worked with many international med-tech companies to help them develop and adapt their technologies for the UK market. TRUSTECH is linked directly with NHS hospitals as well as science park facilities and can provide many services from desk research to physician and patient evaluation of technology.
One of the most important sites in the city is called “The Corridor.” It’s home to knowledge-intensive organizations and businesses that operate in the area of biomedical, pharmaceuticals, clinical trials, medical devices and oncology-related healthcare. Its facilities are state-of-the-art, which include the Manchester Science Park and the soon to open Citylabs, Manchester’s biomedical center of excellence. Part of this is because the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the hospitals of the Central Manchester Foundation Trust and several leading medical research institutes are located there.
Due to the close proximity of the research centers and universities, the city is able to draw on a large talent pool. The University of Manchester is one of the largest schools, with more than 6,000 biotech and medical graduates every year, a figure that increases to 25,000 when including graduates from the 22 universities within an hour of the city center.
The University of Manchester is ranked 7th in Europe. The University’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences provides outstanding opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships with industry. More than 7,000 students pursue their studies there.
The Manchester Metropolitan University has a total student population of more than 37,000. It is home to the Institute for Biomedical Research and also has a highly active microbiology research group. The Microbiological Services group provides a variety of services to research and industry.
The University of Salford is a world leader in orthotics and prosthetics, with a strong faculty of Health and Social Care. It is home to the Biomedical Research Center, which focuses on disease processions, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of pathology leading to the development of new or improved diagnostics and treatments.
The University of Bolton houses the Institute for Material Research and Innovation, a multi-disciplinary center designed to cultivate research and innovation activities. Their Medical Devices group focuses on the development of biomaterials and specialty materials with healthcare-related functionalities.
CENTERS THAT MAKE MANCHESTER A RESEARCH HUB
Manchester Collaborative Center for Inflammation Research (MCCIR): The Center was established to address current priorities in inflammatory disease in an open innovation, pre-competitive collaboration between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. GlaxoSmith Kline, AstraZeneca and the University of Manchester have each invested 5m pounds to promote “blue skies” research over the next five years.
Health e-Research Center (HeRC): The Center develops methods and expertise for harnessing health data for patient and public benefit. The Center brings together different disciplines to advance data-intensive approaches to health science and care, thus excelling in health informatics. The HeRC hub is hosted by Manchester University’s Center for Health Informatics. However, it does have spokes at the Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and York.
National Graphene Institute (NGI): The Institute will be UK’s home of research into the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, providing the opportunity for researchers and industry to work together on a huge variety of potential applications, including biohealth applications. Researchers have, for example, found that graphene and fluorescent molecules can be combined to diagnose diseases and facilitate gene therapy. Graphene was isolated for the the first time at the University of Manchester just 10 years ago. Set to open early 2015, NGI will be the world’s leading center of Graphene research, combining the expertise of University of Manchester academics with their counterparts at other UK universities and with leading global commercial organizations.
SMALL DUCHY, BIG POTENTIAL
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg encompasses an area of about three square kilometers; 500,000 inhabitants live in the small but politically very stable country in the middle of Europe.
In order to bring together the private and public sectors, Luxembourg’s government has launched the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative. It fosters collaborations to promote innovative projects. The focus of the Luxembourg BioHealth cluster is health science and technologies.
Luxembourg is strong in medical devices, diagnostics, bioinformatics and telemedicine. Government support that began in 2008 led to the creation of the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and of the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL). IBBL claims to be the ideal biobanking and biomarker validation partner for consortium research projects from the European Research Programmes. Biological samples and their associated data are collected and stored there, making them available to research organizations.
The LCSB aims to cement the link between systems biology and medical research. One of LCSB’s most important strategic partnerships has been set up with the ISB in Seattle, WA.
Among other key players in biotech are the Public Research Center for Health, the CRP Henri Tudor—Resource Center for Healthcare Technologies and the CRP Gabriel Lippmann—Environment and Agro-biotechnologies department.
Most recently, a new life-science incubator, the House of Biohealth, has been set up in Luxembourg. The building is a joint project of the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade, the ZARE Park for economic activities in Esch-sur-Alzette and private investors. The facility will encompass both startups and established companies in the fields of biotech, clean-tech and ICT. The incubator will have the capacity to host 500 to 700 researchers and it will offer around 10,000 square meters of laboratory space and 7,800 square meters of office space. Near the incubator, Luxembourg is building a new science park called the City of Sciences, Research and Innovation. The park in Esch Belval will feature 20 buildings, regrouping the new site of the University of Luxembourg, the main research centers, startup incubators and support structures. The area will encompass 47.5 hectares and it will be home to LCSB, other public research organizations and the cluster initiative including the BioHealth Cluster.
Financial aid for companies and research institutions is one incentive to setting up facilities in Luxembourg. The country offers national funding and European funding is available. The Horizon 2020 framework program, for example, covers the period 2014 to 2020, and it is the EU‘s main instrument for supporting research, development and innovation in Europe. Its total budget amounts to almost 80 billion euros. The funding can be obtained by Luxembourg-based companies, public research organizations and others who deal with Health Sciences and Technologies.
Furthermore, Luxembourg wants to position itself as a prime logistics air freight hub in Europe for the life science industry by offering fully compliant end-to-end temperature-controlled supply chain solutions. Luxembourg’s air freight hub has been reinforced with the opening of LuxairCARGO‘s new dedicated Pharma & Healthcare Center at the capital‘s national airport. Luxembourg’s air freight hub soon will be fully Good Distribution Practice-certified according to the World Health Organization and EU GDP guidelines.
Additionally, Luxembourg has high-quality IT infrastructure and one of the highest world-wide concentrations of Tier IV Data centers, which also makes it an attractive location for companies in the bioinformatics and Health IT fields.
VIENNA: SMART LIFE-SCIENCE CITY
“I lived and worked for 16 years in several European countries and in Brazil. When I left Austria in the late ‘90s, biotech did not really exist here. I returned a few years ago and I was really impressed that Vienna has evolved into a vivid and international life science and biotech cluster during these years”, says Karl Hübler, CEO of Eucodis Bioscience GmbH. He adds: “It was definitely worth coming back.”
Hübler’s company is based in Vienna. Eucodis delivers high-performance enzyme solutions for highly specific applications in biopharma, fine chemicals and cosmetics, among others. The company is one example of how Vienna has advanced to become one of the leading life science hubs in Europe in the past two decades. The city’s universities and research institutions also played a great role in the growth of Vienna’s biotech sector. Markus Reinhard, vice president, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, agrees to this: “Vienna’s infrastructure and overall stability are excellent. Baxter employees here are superbly trained in areas important to the company.”
Vienna attracts renowned scientists from all over the world and is home not only to Baxter but also to other key players such as Boehringer Ingelheim and Ottobock. At the same time, it attracts dynamic life science startups.
According to Life Science Cluster Vienna, a recent study revealed that 378 life science companies are situated in Vienna, with main activities in the biotech/pharma or medical technology sector, referring to the OECD and GMDN criteria. In 2012, the companies’ revenues amounted to 9,089 million euros and engaged 21,031 employees. Approximately one third of the firms are active in R&D. Focus areas in biotechnology are anti-infectives, immunology, oncology and diseases of the respiratory system.
Twenty-five research institutes are located in Vienna. Their cooperation is key to the companies’ success. In addition, five universities, two applied universities, 12 non-university research institutes and six other organizations educate 38,000 life science students. In other words, every fifth student in Vienna studies in this field. Life sciences are “in the air”—and potential employees are not far, taking into account the 3,600 graduates each year. In total, 35,300 people in Vienna work in life science research institutions or in biotech/pharma or medical technology companies, according to the latest Vienna Life Science Report.
Partners for cooperations can easily be found, according to the cluster management. Vienna’s cluster management also has a long history of supporting startups, including a 200,000 euro in preseed financing and 1 million euro in seed financing. It also offers lab- and office-space to young companies.
It comes as no surprise that, via the ZIT (The Technology Agency of the City of Vienna), the Vienna Business Agency and the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF), since 1998 Vienna has constantly invested in life sciences. Together with the Republic of Austria, the City of Vienna established the life science cluster organization LISAvienna specifically for the industry.
Biotech companies in Vienna are on average seven years old, with new companies to flow in constantly; 14 companies were founded between 2010 and 2012. In 2013, Panoptes, BlueSkyvaccines and TAMiRNA were founded in Vienna. Yet, Vienna-based key players in the field of life sciences remain Baxter, Boehringer Ingelheim and Ottobock. In 2013, Boehringer Ingelheim had a turnover of 914.5 million euros and employed 1,400 people in Austria.
The medtech company Ottobock invested 16.6 million euros to build a new eco-friendly manufacturing facility with up to 80 percent of heating and cooling needs being covered by geothermal energy. The company employs 590 people in Vienna and its annual sales amounted to 110.5 million euros in 2013. Ottobock currently is developing a new R&D facility in Austria. Hans Dietl, Managing Director of Ottobock in Austria, says: “Our Vienna site is the locomotive for innovation in our company and one of the growth engines. Vienna provides the necessary proximity to research institutions and clinics and is an attractive location for high potentials.”
Baxter is Austria‘s largest R&D-driven biotech and pharma company. For Baxter, Vienna is the most important research site—80 percent of the product portfolio of the BioScience division is developed and/or manufactured in Vienna. And Baxter keeps expanding their facilities in Austria. The company invested more than 600 million euros in new buildings and equipment since 2006 and employs 4,400 people in the country. With the Medical University of Vienna, the IMP, IMBA and CeMM, Austria‘s capital has a bevy of leading research institutions.
The Medical University of Vienna was founded in 1365 and is one of the world‘s largest and most renowned medical universities today. It provides Europe‘s biggest hospital, the AKH in Vienna, with all of its medical staff.
The interdisciplinary Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) was founded in 2000. It integrates basic research and clinical expertise to pursue innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. 150 scientists research cancer, inflammation and immune disorders. The Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, IMBA, was established in 1999. It uses model organisms and cutting-edge functional genomics to investigate fundamental molecular processes and their contribution to diseases.
The Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, IMP, was founded in 1985. More than 200 researchers from over 30 countries come together at IMP to carry out research in the molecular life sciences. Their main areas are life at the molecular and cellular levels, information processing and storage in neural circuits, mechanisms of organismal development and disease, and interdisciplinary approaches that bring ideas and methods from other fields to bear on biological questions.
Life Science Vienna Muthgasse bundles university and research institutions such as the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) or the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) with life sciences companies and organizations offering beneficial synergies. The first phase of the Biotech I project is completed, with more than 24,000 square meters already in use. The next building, Biotech II, will provide 29,000 square meters of office and lab space, as well as 25,500 square meters of rental space.
The Medical University of Vienna is Austria’s leading health care services provider through Vienna General Hospital (AKH), the university hospital. Five research clusters, including immunology, infectious diseases, oncology, and neuroscience, are established.
Campus Vienna Biocenter (CVBC) is one of the leading international biomedical research centers worldwide. It sets up the Campus Science Support Facilities (CSF GmbH), featuring a comprehensive range of new technologies with substantial funding from the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research and the City of Vienna. The CVBC is home to several research laboratories, biotech companies and startups.
The Vienna University of Technology provides expertise in bioanalytics and sensor development, biomechanics, biomedical engineering, chemical technologies and software development.
BIOTECH THRIVES IN BERLIN
According to Germany Trade & Invest, Germany features one of the best environments for biotechnology companies worldwide. Over the past three decades, Germany’s biotech clusters—known as BioRegions—have developed into Europe’s leading research and development hubs. Berlin, Hessen and Munich rank among the top biotech-regions.
Berlin-Brandenburg is one of the leading life sciences and healthcare centers in the world. Numerous technology parks and networks create an excellent infrastructure for innovation.
The capital region is a premier location for healthcare industries, with 280 medical technology companies, more than 220 biotechnology companies, 30 pharmaceuticals manufacturers and 132 hospitals (with more than 35,000 beds). The hospitals provide excellent opportunities for collaborating on clinical studies. About 313,000 people work in the region’s healthcare industry, with biotech companies employing more than 4,300.
Among the key players are Bayer HeathCare Pharmaceuticals, Bausch + Lomb, B. Braun Melsungen, Eckert & Ziegler, Glycotope, Berlin-Chemie, Biotronik, Pfizer and Sanofi.
Berlin has 24 large research institutes and university departments that focus on the healthcare industry. The players include one of the largest university hospitals in Europe, the Charité, Europe’s largest clinical laboratory (Labor Berlin–Charité Vivantes), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the German Heart Institute Berlin. Non-university research institutions include four Max Planck Institutes, two Fraunhofer Institutes, two Leibniz Institutes and two Helmholtz Centers.
Pfizer Deutschland Chairman Andreas Penk summarizes the advantages offered by these research assets: “Here, we have a unique combination of medical infrastructure, research performed by university institutes and non-university institutions, as well as biotech companies. This has worked very much to our benefit.”
Berlin has technology parks providing customized services to biotech and life sciences companies. One in eight Berliners works in the life sciences. Every year, 3,000 students graduate in life sciences-related disciplines in Berlin-Brandenburg, including 750 graduates in biotechnology fields.
Twenty universities, universities of applied sciences and academies offer over 90 degree programs and professional training in life sciences. At the Charité University Hospital alone, over 7,000 students are trained in the medical departments of the Free University Berlin and Humboldt University Berlin.
Berlinbiotechpark is located in the heart of Berlin. Among the tenants are Bio Deutschland, metanomics, NOXXON Pharma, SGS Institut Fresenius, Sacura and MagForce.
Biocampus Berlin-Buch is a modern science, health and biotechnology park with a clear focus on biomedicine, with investments of more than 200 million euros from the federal government, state government and the EU. Approximately 26,000 square meters of sector-specific lab and office space is available to companies. To date, 47 biotechnology companies are located on the Campus with a total of 750 employees, among them Stratec Molecular, silence Therapeutics, Lipidomix, OctreoPharm Sciences and Congen Biotechnologie.
The companies that have made Biocampus Potsdam their home employ approximately 250 people. Among the tenants are aevotis, BioRepro, BIOTECON Diagnostics, bovicare and the Helmholtz Center Potsdam.
Biotechnology Park Luckenwalde, south of Berlin, is one of the most modern facilities of its kind in Germany, providing work, research, and housing in close proximity on a 28-acre campus-like ground. Along with the branch of the Technical University Wildau on campus, the Educational Center for Biotechnology and Chemistry secures the long-term need for biotech-professionals. Companies at Biotechnology Park Luckenwalde include Astra Biotech, Biocol, BIOLINE, CellTrend, the Center for Molecular Oncology and CHIRACON.
Co:bios Technologiezentrum, northwest of Berlin, attracts spin-offs and start-ups. One example of success is the company BRAHMS, which moved to the park in 2000. Nine years later, pharma-giant Thermo Fisher Scientific bought the company for 330 million euros.
The Center of Biotechnology and the Environment science and technology park in Adlershof is a leading site for biotechnology and life sciences in the capital region. Mainly mid-sized companies such as JPT Peptide Technologies, ASCA, Algenol-Biofuels, Scienion, microParticles and Proteome Factory are located there. The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, The Leibniz Institute for Analytical Science and Humboldt University’s Institute for Chemistry also are based there.
The Center of Biotechnology and the Environment features 13,000 square meters of rentable space. In total, approximately 70 biotech-related businesses are based in Adlershof. They concentrate on Process and Product Development, Pharmaceuticals, and Medical and Environmental Technology.
Almost 200 companies are located in innovation park Wuhlheide in Treptow-Koepenick. Among 16 biotech-companies are bbi-biotech, BioGenes Gesellschaft für Biopolymere, fermtec, Minerva Biolabs and TTC Transfer.
Science park Golm features the GO:IN Golm Center for innovations. GO:IN provides perfect conditions for start-ups. Life science facilities of the University of Potsdam are within close proximity to Golm. Among the tenants of the center are BIOCYC, GO:INcubator, Metabolomic Discoveries and the Center for molecular diagnostic and bioanalytics.
Industry players in the capital region were quick to create specialized networks, including the Center for Molecular Diagnostics and Bioanalysis, the Network for Bioanalytics and Biohybrid Technologies, BCBio (bioinformatics), PLANT 2030 (plant genome research), ProteinStructureFactory (protein structure research) and RiNA (RNA technologies).
BAVARIA: HOME TO 400 BIOTECH FIRMS
Bavaria is home to 400 biotech firms, with 26,000 employees in the life sciences and 65,000 in the healthcare/veterinary sector.
Eleven Bavarian universities engage in Life Sciences, and the state is home to 12 Max-Planck Institutes, three Helmholtz Institutes, six Institutes of the Fraunhofer Society, 10 research/transfer centers and 10 research associations.
The state has three main regional centers for biotech innovation. In the north, there are two biotech incubators (in Würzburg and Erlangen); 22 companies in Würzburg engage mainly in biomedical sciences, and more than 30 companies in Erlangen work in medical technologies. The second center of biotech is located in the east in the Regensburg area. There, 44 companies engage in biopharmaceuticals, analytics and sensors, medical technologies and production. The largest biotech incubator in Bavaria is Martinsried in Munich, home to 70 biotech companies, including players in biopharmaceuticals, personalized medicine and targeted therapeutics.
Recent investments in Bavaria include Roche’s 92 million euro expansion in Penzberg and Pfizer’s 50 million euro expansion in Illertissen. Micromet, a biotech company with its R&D center in Munich, in 2012 acquired Amgen.
As part of Germany’s High Tech Strategy, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research initiated a Top Cluster competition. There were two winners from Bavaria: Medical Valley EMN and Munich Biotech Cluster m4. The maximum time of funding per cluster is five years; the total amount of funding that the Federal Ministry of Education and Research spends on the winners is 600 million euro, 40 million euro for each winner. Medical Valley EMN is a cluster with 500 participating companies, employing 45.000 people. Approximately 400 patent applications every year are output of the cluster-members.
Munich Biotech Cluster m4 is developing individual and personalized medicine and sustainable growth through start-ups and international investors and companies. Its “Vision 2020” is to get an internationally acknowledged “Center of Excellence” of personalized medicine and the improvement of the development process, effectiveness and security of medicine. Among the biotech companies that are part of the cluster are Roche Diagnostics, MorphoSys, 4SC, Proteros, Pieris, Mikrogen and Eurofins. In total, 270 life science companies participate in the cluster, providing more than 20,000 jobs. Two thirds of these are small and medium-sized companies and most are spin-offs from Ludwig-Maximilians-University and the Technical University of Munich.
BIOTECH RISING IN HESSEN
Hessen, located in the middle of Germany, is home to 225 biotech companies, approximately 60 of them being core biotech companies. A large part of the value creation comes from large firms, but, at the same time, almost every other biotech-company in Hessen has fewer than 10 employees. The cooperation between the giants and dwarfs works very well according to the Hessian Ministry for Economics, Transport, Urban and Regional development.
The companies initiate research and progress to a large extent: 83 percent of the biotech patents come from industry and every fifth employee is engaged in research and development.
Production sites are in Frankfurt (sanofi-aventis), Marburg (Novartis-Behring) and Hanau (Heraeus). One third of Germany’s fermenter capacities for pharmaceutical production are in Hessen and more GMP cell culture plants shall be constructed in Frankfurt and Marburg. New production plants for industrial biotech will be opened in Zwingenberg, making Hessen a biotech hotspot.
Industrial biotech is on the rise in Hessen. The part it plays in Hessen’s biotech as a whole has doubled to over 11 percent in only five years. This certainly played a role when Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research decided some years ago to make funds available for the Frankfurt Cluster for Integrated Bioindustry which focuses on fine and specialty chemistry. The largest field, however, remains red biotechnology (pharmaceuticals, diagnostics) with a share of 81.1 percent of all Hessian biotech revenues.
In recent years, biotech activities in Hessen have clustered around the Industrial Parks in Frankfurt, Offenbach, Wiesbaden, Griesheim and Hanau and investments have continuously increased. Particularly investments by companies located at the Höchst Industrial Park in Frankfurt have risen. Höchst Industrial Park is one of Europe’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical parks and looks back to almost 150 years of chemistry tradition. Höchst hosts almost 100 on-site companies, among them giants like sanofi-aventis, Clariant and Celanese. About 22.000 people work on a 460 hectare site, approximately one fifth of them work in research and development.
In addition to this, two Technology and Innovation Centers, the FIZ in Frankfurt and the TIG in Giessen, offer companies an ideal infrastructure and make laboratory space available. They are situated close to universities and Max Planck Institutes, respectively.
Biotech companies in Hessen have lots of options to partner with universities and research facilities. Five universities and five Schools of Applied Sciences in the area partner with biotech companies. The University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Giessen and Frankfurt focus on biotech and process engineering. The Technical University of Darmstadt and the Goethe University in Frankfurt offer a joint Master’s course in Molecular Biotechnology. The Justus Liebig University in Giessen offers classes in food chemistry and is also a focal point of a state initiative for the development of scientific and economic excellence in biotech. The Philipps University in Marburg sticks out for its competence in Terrestrial Microbiology and the Karl Winnacker Institute of Dechema in Frankfurt is leading in the field of bioprocess engineering.
PARTNERS FOR INNOVATION: HESSEN RESEARCH FACILITIES WITH CORE COMPETENCE IN INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
- Universities of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Gießen, Frankfurt: Main focus is biotechnology and process engineering
- Technical University Darmstadt Goethe University Frankfurt: Joint Master’s course Molecular Biotechnology
- Justus Liebig University Gießen: Hessen’s only food chemistry course
- Justus Liebig University Gießen: Focal point of LOEWE project. LOEWE is a state initiative for the development of scientific and economic excellence in biotechnology; Fraunhofer Bioresources Project Group
- Philipps University Marburg, MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology: LOEWE project “Synthetic Microbiology”
- DECHEMA-Forschungsinstitue (DFI) in Frankfurt: Bioprocess engineering, interface between research and industry
Source: Hessen Trade and Invest GmbH
Hessen supports cooperations in the sector and supports transfer activities by the TechnologyTransferNetwork. Companies that look for cooperation partners and information on EU research programs can turn to the Enterprise Europe Network Hessen.
According to the Hessian Ministry for Economics, Transport, Urban and Regional development, the state in cooperation with Sanofi-aventis has set a national standard with its country-wide competition for founders in the field of Life Sciences and chemistry with Science4Life. This initiative is actively supported by more than 100 companies and institutions. In the future, Hessen expects great progress in the field of White biotech the state won the BioIndustrie 2021 contest).
In total, 119 foreign companies invested in sites in Hessen in 2013. 30 of these came from the United States. Biotech was, next to IT and Finance, one of the most important branches to investors. In 2011, 96 foreign companies invested in Hessen, in 2012, 77 came to Hessen. Therefore, the state broke a new record in 2013. Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessen’s Minister of Economic Affairs, commented on this: “The figures show: Hessen is extremely attractive for foreign investors.” According to him, this is due to Hessen’s infrastructure, its central location within Europe and the international environment in the area.
XenoTech Europe, for example, came to Hessen in 2013. It is a secondary establishment to the US-organization XenoTech, specializing on pre-clinical medical studies. The new site in Pfungstadt was opened in June.
BELGIUM: TRIPLE STRENGTH IN FLANDERS, WALLONIA AND BRUSSELS
Belgium is home to three language communities and it is divided into three main regions: the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital Region. The Flemish community speaks Dutch, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation speaks French and there is also a small German-speaking population. Brussels has a long history as Europe’s capital but, compared to the two other regions, its biotech-tradition is relatively young.
The Brussels region does not even cover one percent of the country’s territory and yet it represents close to twenty percent of the biotech activity in Belgium. However, compared to the other regions, Brussel’s biotech companies are relatively young. Most of them work in the field of medical biotech.
The Brussels LifeTech Cluster was established to gather the biotech, pharma and medical technology players of the region and make their collective know-how visible. Its task is also to encourage partnerships and synergies between the players. The Life Technologies Business Unit of the Brussels Enterprise Agency supports the cluster.
About 300 companies in the capital region engage in Biotech/Pharma and MedTech (18 in Biotech), and the region offers a large network of research institutions (three universities, five university hospitals), Incubators, financing possibilities and support organizations.
The three main universities, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Université catholique de Louvain and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Meurice Institute (an Haute Ecole) and the five University hospitals employ almost 3.000 researchers in life sciences.
To help startups and spin-offs, the Brussels-Capital Region has initiated incubation infrastructures: The Brussels Life Science Incubator is located on the UCL site and offers labspace, offices and logistic facilities to young companies. They may also take advantage of the UCL support structure: SOPARTEC and its Vives investments fund, the Research Management Office of UCL and Vésalius Scientific Park. Another Bio-incubator is called Eurobiotec Brussels and sits in the Erasmus Industrial Zone in the capital. It is a Biotech Innovation and Incubation Center involved in the industrial activities in the white and red biotech. Furthermore, The Erasmus European Business and Innovation Center was created in 1992. It offers more than 6.000 square meters of premises, from offices to equipped laboratories and a comprehensive administrative infrastructure. Finally, Solvay Research and Technology Center has opened its largest research and development site to startups and offers space for research.
Most biotech companies in Belgium are located in the northern part of the country, Flanders. It looks back on a great tradition of biotech. Researchwise it is centered around the university towns of Gent, Mechelen and Leuven. It is home to more than 120 biotech companies, most of which have specialized on green biotech and the health sector.
Despite its small geographical area— approximately two thirds of Silicon Valley in the U.S.—the full range of competences required to bring new and innovative products to the market is available, according to FlandersBio. The association aims to support life sciences companies through networking, services, economic benefits and more.
The growing life sciences hubs near the universities house most biotech companies, 13 research parks and 14 incubators, research institutes, academic hospitals and clinical research organizations. According to FlandersBio, biotech companies in the region have access to 52.000 square meters of highly flexible infrastructure.
Flanders has an attractive tax structure for biotech concerns: Tax breaks up to 75 percent are available on researcher salaries. (Belgium offers a tax system of 6.8 percent tax rate for patent income).
Tailor-made facilities are available. Flanders provides multiple purpose-built bio-incubators, located on research parks close to the five main universities, where more than 500,000 square feet is available for incoming life sciences ventures.
Wallonia has focused on diagnostics and regenerative medicine and is home to more than 30 percent of the Belgian Biotech companies. One of the most important regional clusters is the “BioWin” life science network. The cluster has more than 500 members with more than 100 businesses. 80 percent of its members are small and medium-sized companies. 400 research units employ about 11,000 researchers.
More than 15 percent of the European biopharmaceutical exports come from Belgium. The country is said to be the largest exporter in pharmaceutical goods. A quarter of the world’s vaccines are produced in Belgium, for example by GlaxoSmithKline in Rixensart.
BAXTER ADVANCES BIOTECH IN GA
Baxter International’s decision to make a $1.3-billion investment in Georgia was the Gold Award winner in Business Facilities’ 2012 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition.
The Baxter bio-pharmaceutical facility, an integrated campus which will include three main manufacturing components as well as warehousing, utilities and lab support facilities, is expected to directly create 1,800 jobs with an economic impact of $6.2 billion.
Over a 10-year period, the bioscience complex will generate a regional economic impact estimated at nearly $13 billion, creating more than 8,700 direct, indirect and induced jobs. The campus is being built in Covington, GA in Stanton Springs, a 1,620-acre master-designed industrial park west of Interstate 20 at the intersection of Newton, Walton, Jasper and Morgan counties.
The entities involved in landing the project included the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Joint Development Authority of Walton, Newton, Morgan and Jasper Counties, Georgia Power and the Technology Park of Atlanta. Construction of the first manufacturing buildings at the new Baxter campus is expected to be completed in 2015, with full commercial production commencing in 2018.
Rising next to the new Baxter plant is a state-funded training center that will help maximize the creation of biotech jobs throughout the Peach State. Ground was broken at the end of March on the new Georgia BioScience Training Center. The center was a key piece in the package of incentives that helped draw Baxter to build its plant in Georgia. The package, which tops $210 million, included $14 million to build the QuickStart training facility and $10 million to operate the program.
Industry-specific training centers are a key part of Georgia’s growth strategy. State-backed training centers are adjacent to Kia’s automotive assembly plant in West Point, GA and Caterpillar’s new plant near Athens.
The BioScience Training Center was designed with a broader mission in mind than training the workers who eventually will staff the Baxter plant. “This training facility represents not only our commitment to supporting Baxter’s needs, but also our commitment to growing the life sciences industry in Georgia,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “It’s projects like these that have made, and will continue to make, Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business.”
At the groundbreaking for the BioScience Training Center, Deal was joined by Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr, Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson and Vice President and Program Executive of Baxter International Brien Johnson.
“This Georgia BioScience Training Center will give us one of the most effective tools we can have in economic development to recruit more life science and health IT companies to Georgia,” said Carr. “The facility is designated solely to providing customized workforce training as an incentive to attract new biotech jobs to Georgia.”
The BioScience Training Center was designed by Cooper Carry and will be built by the Whiting-Turner construction company. The 52,000-square-foot facility will be operated by Georgia QuickStart, a program administered by Athens Technical College, and will provide customized training to meet Baxter’s start-up needs and build capacity and curricula within the Technical College System of Georgia for maintaining a long-term pipeline of highly skilled employees who are well-trained in bio-manufacturing operations.
“Some people don’t understand the linkage between education and economic development,” Deal said. “QuickStart is that link. It’s important for us to recruit industries but also provide a workforce that is educated and equipped. We want to have those who have gone from pre-K to receiving a college degree to be able to use that degree in their home state. That’s what this facility will ensure.”
“This Georgia BioScience Training Center will give us one of the most effective tools we can have in economic development to recruit more life science and health IT companies to Georgia,” said Commissioner Carr. “The facility is designated solely to providing customized workforce training as an incentive to attract new biotech jobs to Georgia.”
PA: LEADERSHIP IN LIFE SCIENCES
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett was named the 2013 BIO Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization in recognition of his leadership and commitment to strengthening the biotechnology and public health sectors within the Commonwealth.
“This recognition from the Biotechnology Industry Organization acknowledges efforts by my administration to strengthen and further build the life sciences industry in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said, in accepting the award.
“By supporting initiatives that stimulate growth within the industry—from helping entrepreneurs quickly transform ideas into commercial products to supporting the establishment and expansion of biotech companies—we are ensuring the biotech economy will continue to grow and flourish in Pennsylvania,” the governor added.
In 2011, Corbett assembled a Life Sciences Leadership Advisory Council, with representation from the Pennsylvania legislature, academia, industry and the investment community, to develop a 10-year strategic plan to strengthen the industry. Through a series of meetings and analysis, the council identified Pennsylvania’s competitive advantages and opportunities to expand biotech in PA.
Corbett continues to support the state’s private sector partners and programs that are helping to grow the life sciences sector in Pennsylvania. This effort includes the Discovered in PA—Developed in PA program, which has helped local organizations establish and anchor their operations in the Commonwealth and the state’s three Life Sciences Greenhouses, which in the last three years alone have aided in the creation of more than 32 new bioscience firms. The Greenhouses have the proven success of 156 new companies formed, more than 3,400 jobs created and 2,227 jobs retained (as of 2013).
The Pennsylvania Life Sciences Greenhouse Initiative (PALSG) initiative provides seed and pre-seed life sciences funding and connections to angel investors, strategic partners and resources and high-level life science consulting expertise for healthcare technology companies.
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) is a nationally-recognized investment firm committed to empowering entrepreneurs to build innovative and successful life sciences companies. The PLSG empowers entrepreneurial life sciences enterprises in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania to build companies that make global advances in research and patient care.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Pittsburgh’s regional foundation community, founded PLSG as a public/private partnership. PLSG’s revolving funding model provides returning revenue that supports the ongoing growth of our regional industry. In addition, the Pittsburgh greenhouse receives funding from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and western Pennsylvania’s philanthropic foundation community.
Since PLSG began operation in 2002, it has assisted more than 400 life sciences companies and has helped create or retain more than 1,800 direct jobs and affected another 12,000 jobs in western Pennsylvania; 34 companies have been provided with office or laboratory space; and 13 have been relocated to Pittsburgh from outside of the region. PLSG has invested $20 million in 75 companies, which has leveraged over $900 million in additional capital to the region. PLSG guides researchers, entrepreneurs and emerging companies through difficult challenges faced in early stages of company development.
The Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania provides investment funding up to $1 million in milestone-driven convertible debt or equity financing to viable seed-stage or established life sciences companies that have significant potential for commercial growth.
Gov. Corbett recently announced that Spark Therapeutics will expand operations at a new building at the University City Science Center, creating new high-wage jobs in Philadelphia.
“Pennsylvanians are leading the new wave of scientific transformation through innovative research and technology,” Corbett said. “My administration is proud to partner with companies like Spark Therapeutics who dare to dream and define Pennsylvania as a national life sciences leader. Today we celebrate the growth and success of an innovative Pennsylvania start up that will create 67 new jobs.”
Spark Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing potentially curative gene therapies for a wide variety of debilitating diseases. The company will lease a 28,000-square-foot office, lab and manufacturing space in Philadelphia. The company will make significant investments at the new site and has committed to creating at least 67 new jobs and retaining five more positions over the next three years.
“We are deeply committed to the Philadelphia life sciences community, particularly since many of our scientific co-founders and advisors represent world-class local institutions,” said Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, co-founder, president and CEO of Spark.
The company received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development including a $150,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant that facilitates investment and job creation and $201,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits. The company has also been encouraged to apply for the funding offer as well as a low-interest loan including $1.6 million from the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund (MELF).
GROWING BIOTECH JOBS IN IOWA
Agriculture and biotechnology go hand in hand in Iowa. The bountiful corn crop has kept Iowa in its leadership position as the top-ranked state for ethanol production for several years. But agricultural-based biotech goes well beyond biofuels. A rapidly expanding global populations has made research into more efficient food production a top priority of many biotech firms.
A good example of these is the continuing expansion of Kemin Industries. An Iowa-based agriculture and biotechnology company, Kemin Industries recently opened its new $16.7 million research and development center in southeast Des Moines.
According to a report in American Agriculturist, the science from the lab will drive development of new products and new generations of existing products. Kemin makes specialty ingredients for a number of products ranging from human health, nutrition and cosmetics to feed additives for dairy cows and beef cattle. The company strives to create products that benefit human health and make livestock healthier and more productive, says Kemin CEO Chris Nelson.
The new 46,300-square-foot Molecular Advancement Center (MAC) includes state-of-the-art laboratories. The company’s existing Innovation Center continues to operate at full capacity with scientists focused on discovery research and pet food. Kemin also plans to build a new corporate headquarters nearby as well as additional manufacturing and research facilities, bringing its investment in new facilities to $40 million. The headquarters is set to be completed in 2017. Kemin has added more than 100 employees during its growth spurt.
“Our new facility is more than a building. It represents our confidence in employees, our commitment to Des Moines and our vision to improve the quality of life of half the world’s population,” Nelson said at the ribbon-cutting for the MAC. “The world today presents an enormous challenge for where Kemin needs to go in the next few years. By 2050, an estimated 9 billion people will occupy this planet. They will require 70 percent more food than we have today.”
Plans for the MAC facility were first announced when Kemin shared its worldwide expansion plans in October 2010. At that time the firm committed to hiring workers for 98 new positions. But it already exceeded that number by hiring 137 new, full-time workers by August 2013. They range from scientists to manufacturing workers. Kemin employs 2,000 people globally.
When the Kemin expansion in Des Moines is complete, Kemin will have added six new manufacturing facilities, three new research facilities and a new corporate headquarters building.
Nelson emphasized the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in supporting the company’s ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce.
Kemin has experienced 12 percent to 15 percent growth in each of the past five years. The company’s last laboratory in Des Moines was built in 1985. “Today, with the new MAC facility we are going from a 5,000-square-foot to a nearly 50,000-square-foot facility,” Nelson said.
“This company’s phenomenal growth is something we can be proud of,” said Gov. Terry Branstad at the MAC dedication.
In 2010, Kemin received a $1 million forgivable loan from the state to help with the expansion. Kemin also can take advantage of about $3.6 million in tax credits for new offices and equipment, and it can get $600,000 in job training assistance. The company will also get an estimated $2.7 million in tax abatement from the city of Des Moines.