Life Sciences in the Heart of Europe From molecular biology to

Life Sciences in the Heart of Europe
From molecular biology to medical engineering: Austria – a top location
Austria is a top European location for life sciences. This is rooted in a long tradition of excellent medical
research, but is also demonstrated today by the extremely dynamic development in the cutting edge
areas of biotechnology and medical engineering. A large number of committed multinational companies
in Austria add impetus to this momentum along with the lively scene of start-ups and spin-offs in the
field of science. The results are new medicines, therapies and technologies, such as the drug ZMAPP
developed by the American firm Mapp Biopharma, in which high hopes have been placed in the fight
against the Ebola virus. Research findings at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in
Vienna serve as the basis for ZMAPP.
Life sciences as an economic factor
The life sciences sector in Austria is wide-ranging and
diversified. One distinguishing feature is the high level of
networking between producers, suppliers and service
providers. This cooperation is promoted by five regional
clusters which, with public sector support, assume
important coordination responsibilities.
723 firms in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and
medical engineering
Revenue: EUR 17.7 billion (2012)
5.4 percent of Austria’s GDP
50,000 employees
Source: Life Science Report Austria 2013
288 companies operate in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. This sector is characterized
by an impressive intensity of research. The approximately 100 specialized biotech companies invested
the equivalent of 70 percent of their total revenue in research in 2012. Primary areas of research include
the fight against cancer and infectious diseases. In the field of medical engineering, 435 companies deal
with a broad range of research areas, with a special focus on electromechanical medical technology
and software development.
Lively biotope for start-ups and spin-offs
More than half of all Austrian life sciences companies have been established over the past two
decades, many as spin-offs from academic institutions.
■ MED-EL: founded in 1986, spin-off of the Vienna University of Technology, develops high-tech cochlear implants.
■ Guger Technologies: 1999, spin-off of the Graz University of Technology, works on brain-computer interfaces.
■ AFFiRiS: 2003, research on vaccines against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, atherosclerosis, MSA, diabetes.
■ Apeiron: 2005, spin-off of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, conducts research e.g. on childhood cancer.
■ Nabriva: founded 2006, spin-off of Sandoz, develops new types of antibiotics.
■ Marinomed: established 2006, spin-off of the University of Veterinary Medicine, carries out research on therapies
against viral infections of the respiratory system.
■ Haplogen: founded 2010, spin-off of the Center for Molecular Medicine, works on drugs against viral infections.
Austria teems with multinational companies
■ Baxter operates its largest facility outside of the USA and its largest research
site for bioscience.
■ Boehringer-Ingelheim coordinates its activities in 30 countries via the
Regional Center Vienna, selecting Vienna as its center for cancer research.
■ Sandoz produces generic drugs in Austria and conducts research on
injectable generics for cancer therapy.
■ Eli Lilly uses Austria as a regional platform for international research.
■ Merck and Takeda have production sites in Austria.
■ Clinical research is organized and financed in Austria by Pfizer, Janssen, Eli
Lilly, Bayer, Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, to name a few.
■ Siemens develops e.g. dose-reducing processes in diagnostics and imaging.
■ GE Healthcare and Agfa Healthcare develop imaging procedures.
■ Ottobock produces high-tech prostheses in Vienna for the global market.
Business Location Austria
enjoys strong interest from
which conduct research,
manufacture products and
organize clinical studies with
Austria. Many have set up
their headquarters for
Central and Eastern Europe
in Austria. The list of
multinationals based in
Austria reads like the Who’s
Who of the global life sciences industry.
Sound basis due to excellent fundamental research
Outstanding basic research comprises the underlying basis for the dynamic development of Austria’s life
sciences sector. It is not only rooted in the tried and tested university tradition of medical research, but
in numerous start-ups and non-university research institutions founded over the past two decades. More
than 55,000 employees in Austria carry out research in the field of life sciences.
Life sciences at universities
■ More than half of Austria’s 22 universities are actively involved in the field of life sciences, particularly the medical
universities of Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck and the newly-established faculty in Linz.
Research by non-university institutes
■ Life sciences departments and groups at non-university research institutions such as the Austrian Institute of
Technology (AIT), Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) and Joanneum Research
■ Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP)
Research at institutes of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)
■ Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM)
■ Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI)
■ Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA)
Hot Spots of Life Sciences in Austria
Excellent infrastructure: Vienna Bio Center
The Vienna Bio Center (VBC) has made a name for itself as a top location for life sciences in Central
Europe. It is home to four institutes carrying out basic research, a university of applied sciences and
twelve companies. A total of 1,400 researchers and 700 students from 40 countries combine to forge a
dynamic and creative environment. One of the main success factors is the modern infrastructure of the
Campus Support Facility, which is jointly used by neighboring residents.
Exemplary cooperation: Oncotyrol
The mission of the research center Oncotyrol in Innsbruck is to bring personalized cancer medicine from
the laboratory to a patient’s sick bed. Oncotyrol is one of the competence centers supported by the
national funding program COMET. The life sciences competence at Tyrolean universities is bundled
with the know-how of industrial partners, including Novartis, Janssen, AbbVie, Roche, Amgen and
Fresenius Biotech. All of them focus on achieving one common goal i.e. to develop new biomarkers,
measuring methods and therapeutic approaches.
International player: Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer Ingelheim is the largest pharmaceutical company conducting research in Germany, and has
an extensive commitment to its operations in Vienna. The Group’s cancer research center is located
here, as well as the Regional Center Vienna with business responsibility for 30 countries. Due to the
founding of the Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP), Boehringer Ingelheim is also an important driver
of independent basic research in Vienna.
Dynamic company founder: Guger Technologies
Guger Technologies founded in Graz carries out research on computer-brain interfaces and develops
systems for the diagnosis and communications support for patients with an impaired consciousness.
The company gained an international reputation by developing the first writing device for completely
paralyzed patients. Guger Technologies also supplies universities and research institutions around the
world with measuring devices and software for brain research.
Broad-based research promotion, attractive tax system
Public authorities provide support to the booming life sciences sector via:
_ budgets of universities and the Academy of Sciences
_ project funding by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
_ the competence center funding program COMET
_ the pre-seed and seed funding programs for company founders of the Austrian funding bank AWS
_ the funding program for clinical research of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
In addition, Austria offers an investment-friendly tax system featuring a ten percent tax credit for
investments in research as well as a uniform corporate tax rate of 25 percent.