Mr Hofmann, BIO-Europe will be held for the first time in Leipzig from 24 to 26 October. What does this mean for you?
The fact that BIO-Europe is coming to Leipzig in October is fantastic. It is a clear sign that Leipzig has well and truly arrived in the Champions League of European biotechnology locations. We are now playing on a par with Munich, Hamburg and Stockholm. It’s difficult to overstate this success, and I personally am particularly pleased because I have been in contact with the organisers for a good twelve years trying to convince them to bring BIO-Europe to Leipzig. Now we have finally done it.
How important is BIO-Europe in the industry?
You can definitely say that it is the most important event in Europe in the field of biotech. Companies and people from all over the continent come together here, but it also attracts many visitors from the US, Asia and the rest of the world. The spectrum of participating companies is very broad – from small start-ups with five or six people to international corporations. Many participants are executives, senior management, business developers or scouts on the lookout for new products and innovations. It’s safe to say this is one of the top international conferences we have ever brought to Leipzig.
How was the city able to convince the organisers to hold BIO-Europe 2022 in Leipzig?
It is important to be clear that this was no overnight success. Saxony and Leipzig have been working hard on this for decades. The foundations were laid in back in the year 2000 with Saxony’s “biotechnology offensive”. The Free State invested some 200 million euros to expand the life science sector in Dresden and Leipzig. This gave rise to the TU Dresden’s Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) with six professorships, but also the now incredibly successful BIO CITY LEIPZIG. Over the years, Leipzig has simply been able to develop as a commercially successful city in this field, which is of course an important factor for any business conference like BIO-Europe. So it was clear that Leipzig had some advantages over Dresden. In the end, other aspects also played a role, such as Leipzig’s good air and rail transport links. And from a technical point of view, our trade fair is nothing less than state-of-the-art, offering the necessary capacities for an event of this scale.
How would you rate Leipzig’s achievements in the health industry and biotechnology in general?
In Saxony, the sector is concentrated in Dresden and Leipzig. While Dresden is establishing itself as a centre of research, Leipzig has become more of a business location. The city has been better at transferring knowledge to the business world. And that’s something you can feel in the city: Leipzig is very agile and dynamic in the biotechnology sector and characterised by rapid growth. We also see this in our own growth at biosaxony: while in 2009 we started with 22 members, today we look after the interests of some 140 member companies. What makes Leipzig so interesting in my view is the fact that we and the city attend to each and every request – no matter how big or small the company. And the list of requests is very long indeed.