Biotechnology, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is defined as “The application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services”. In other words, biotechnology is multitalented with applications in medicine, agriculture and industry.
To date, in Germany alone, are more than 580 dedicated biotech companies and 130+ biotechnology-active companies with a combined total of ~37.000 employees. Off all companies, about 50% belong the field of “red” biotechnology, e.g. the development of medication and new diagnostic methods. In 2014 Germany’s medical biotechnology generated a revenue of 2.08 billion Euros ( a total revenue of 3.03 billion Euros for all biotech companies combined; up from 1.8 billion Euro and 2.6 billion Euro, respectively in 2011).
Surprisingly, about 45% of all German biotech companies record Qiagen and Miltenyi Biotech with a combined total of 5000+ employers. The geological distribution hasn’t changed dramatically in the last years: most companies are located in Bavaria (104), Berlin-Brandenburg (95) and Baden-Wurttemberg (95), although most biotech employees are based in North Rhine-Westphalia (<4000) due to the fact that both Qiagen and Miltenyi are located there.
In regards to financing, that’s where Germans are behind: a lack of investors and venture capital. “We are chronically underfinanced“, says Peter Heinrich, chief executive of BIO Deutschland. In Germany, venture capital was reduced by almost 40% in 2013 compared with 2012, dropping from 205 million Euro to 127 million Euro. During the same time period, US biotech companies won about three times more venture capital investment. As a consequence, says Heinrich, “Many projects are delayed and slowed down. Risky but revenue-generating ideas cannot be pursued”. However, since 2013, privately funded companies were able to increase their funds by 26% (172 million Euro in 2014 compared to 137 million Euro in 2013) while the public funding has been its lowest in a decade (44 million Euro). Surprisingly, only three German biotech companies are listed on the stock exchange where they have been relatively successful.