State of Hessen, Germany:
An Editorial Profile
From Site Selection magazine, January 2007
Made in Hessen
hen some regions market themselves as centers of life science or biotechnology expertise, their hope is that such companies will locate there. The expertise lies in research under way at the local university or marketing strategies more than in actual commercial activity. But in Hessen, Germany, the companies are there – many dozens of them – as is the university research. More importantly, the critical component of manufacturing is in place, without which the companies investing in the region must invest elsewhere to produce their products.
Hessen is home to several Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)- production facilities built for pharmaceutical companies. Increasingly, these plants are being retooled for biomanufacturing to meet global demand for such products as antibodies, hormones and therapeutic proteins. The importance of biomanufacturing to players in the life science sector cannot be overstated. And having the option of self- manufacturing or outsourcing it to one of the local contract manufacturers is an obvious benefit to a Hessen location.
Three quarters of the state's biotech companies are located in southern Hessen, in and around Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Wiesbaden. The other cluster is in central Hessen, in and around Marburg and Giessen. Most of the biotech companies are in the southern one. And most contract manufacturers, such as W.C. Heraeus in Hanau and Miltenyi Biotec in Frankfurt, are also in the southern cluster.
But the northern cluster has the Behringwerke industrial park, in Marburg, which provides a range of resources for biopharmaceutical
"Location has a far- reaching influence on the operational structure and the microeconomic factors of a biotech company and hence on its overall competitiveness," says Thomas Janssen, managing director of Pharmaserv GmbH, which manages the Behringwerke park, providing facility management, IT support, security and logistics support, among other services. "Having a proper environment means that a company can concentrate entirely on its core business and is not weighed down by administrative and other secondary and operative tasks. Therefore, many factors should be considered and evaluated when choosing a biomanufacturing location."
One is proximity to capital markets, and Frankfurt is Hessen's largest city and a global center of finance and logistics. Access to capital on the front end is just as important as the ability to produce finished product affordably and efficiently later in the process. Add to the mix a healthy information technology industry presence, particularly bioinformatic services, and Hessen's biotechnology and biomanufacturing clusters are not only self sustaining, but thriving.
"The growing biotech market needs to create value from its growing pipeline of biopharmaceuticals, and therefore demands broadened biomanufacturing services," says Dr. Detlef Terzenbach, who heads the biomanufacturing development efforts of HA Hessen Agentur GmbH, Hessen's economic development agency. "To save time and money, biomedical companies will be looking to outsource various drug- development steps or require expert advice on in- house production. They will find the entire biomanufacturing network in Hessen."
Relative to other states in Germany, Hessen embraces the biotechnology industry. In parts of the country, the public and legislators discouraged biotech investment in the 1980s and into the '90s, presuming the sector to be scientifically suspect or environmentally undesirable. But Hessian lawmakers saw things differently and made a point of supporting the industry, resulting in the development of the largest biotech region in Germany, certainly in terms of production.
Investors Seek Regional Stability
"It's not that companies were subsidized, but rather the government made it clear that it was in favor of having biotech companies build up production here," says Dr. Harold Taylor, section head, biotechnology/analytics, at Merz Pharmaceuticals in Frankfurt. "It is the knowledge that a company would be supported. Nothing would be worse than a company starting to build a facility and then find that the laws changed to the detriment of the industry. The knowledge that you will have long- term support is very important."
Two public- private partnerships are in place to encourage the development of life science enterprises. Future Capital AG is a €67- million venture fund that invests in companies in the chemicals and life science industries. Founded in March 1999 by the State of Hessen and Sanofi- Aventis, the fund is the largest bio- venture capital fund in which a German federal state is directly involved. And Science4Life is a business plan competition for life science start- ups. Now in its ninth year, the competition was also established by the state and Sanofi- Aventis.
Hessen, and Frankfurt in particular, was a natural fit for the new German operation of Evolvus Group, an India- based family of companies with expertise in clinical research,
"We have a very strong clientele in Germany and in Switzerland, and Frankfurt is very accessible geographically speaking," explains Aniket Ausekar, director of pharma services at Evolvus. "When we decided to start up in Europe, I had a mandate to expand our current business, and Frankfurt was a central point from which to access Germany, but also the U.K., France and Austria. When evaluating our location options in the region, FIZ approached us, and they gave us a better deal." Besides which, FIZ made the necessary tools available to get Evolvus going in Germany, including incubators and experts familiar with the local legal and regulatory scenes.
Ausekar says he evaluated other Germany locations, including Heidelberg and Munich – Evolvus has an office in Munich already. "Munich was a strong competitor, but it is not in the geographical pharma/chemical manufacturing belt, which runs from Hamburg to Basel, Switzerland. We considered launching in Basel, but Germany has more favorable business rules for foreign companies."
In November 2005, the FIZ Center signed an agreement on cooperation with the University Research Park at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
"The aim is to promote international business activities and to intensify synergistic effects in research, education and economy," says Mark Bugher, president of the University Research Park. The mutual transfer of knowledge between the parks will bring new resources into Hessen's biotechnology industry and help export its innovation outside the region.
For more information about Hessen, visit: www.hessen-biotech.de and www.invest-in-hessen.de.
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