Eight members of the Bundestag from Baden-Württemberg attended the Parliamentary Breakfast on 21st September 2016 in Berlin where information was presented on the performance of the biotechnology sector in Baden-Württemberg. The politicians also discussed with entrepreneurs ways of improving general conditions in the sector.
BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH and the STERN, Freiburg, Ulm and BioRN bioregions invited members of the German Bundestag and entrepreneurs from Baden-Württemberg into the Baden-Württemberg representation in Berlin as part of the Biotech>inside series.
In her introduction, Dr. Barbara Jonischkeit from BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg presented data and facts that underlined the importance of the healthcare industry for Baden-Württemberg as a business location. “The industrial healthcare sector, i.e. the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical technology industries combined, has a gross value of 13.8 billion euros and makes a significant contribution to Baden-Württemberg’s overall prosperity. A WifOR study we ran found that this figure would be twice as high if induced and indirect effects were taken into account. Every euro gross value generated in the industrial healthcare industry leads to another euro gross value in other sectors.”
The competitiveness of Baden-Württemberg companies is also worth mentioning. The state's industrial healthcare industry has an export ratio of 11.1 percent and ranks third behind the automotive and mechanical engineering industries. Biotechnology is of particular importance within the healthcare industry sector because its growth is a measure of Baden-Württemberg’s future performance and innovative capability. As far as the number of biotechnology companies is concerned, Baden-Württemberg is home to as many as 156 biotech companies, 22 of which were founded in the past 30 months.
A Baden-Württemberg biotech company in the form of BioCopy GmbH, represented by its founder Dr. Günter Roth, was present in Berlin to discuss with politicians the specifics of university spin-offs and the conditions under which they operate. Roth called for more entrepreneurial spirit at universities as well as sustainable and better coordinated funding since many university spin-offs “starve” on the way to market.
Dr. Jan Schmidt-Brand from Heidelberg Pharma was concerned about Germany’s long-term competitiveness: “We have a mature economy, based on high technology. However, we are currently falling behind as far as cutting-edge technologies are concerned.” Schmidt-Brand put this down to a lack of venture capital, which is an enormous problem for start-up companies. The lack of venture capital was also identified as a major stumbling block by Dr. Claus Kremoser from Phenex Pharmaceuticals: “We urgently need tax and other incentives. This will contribute to the establishment and revival of a functioning innovation capital market.” Kremoser specifically directed his comment at the Parliamentary Finance Committee. Schmidt-Brand also emphasised that reducing discrimination against equity financing, as outlined in the Cabinet draft, was of primary importance and must be addressed urgently.
Dr. Oliver Schacht from Curetis and Dr. Frank Mathias from Rentschler represented two of Baden-Württemberg's major focus areas. Dr. Oliver Schacht pointed out that diagnostics could play a pioneering role in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Dr. Frank Mathias underlined once again the importance of biopharmaceutical production in Baden-Württemberg.
Baden-Württemberg has the world’s second largest biopharmaceutical production capacity after the United States, which is also reflected in the sales and employment figures in the Baden-Württemberg biotechnology sector. According to BIOPRO’s latest data collection, the state’s 156 biotech company achieved taxable revenues of around 5 billion euros in 2014 and employed around 19,000 people. Mathias also discussed the general conditions for biotech companies and called for tax improvements as well as better coordinated health, research and economic policies.