© Tom Schulze

Healthcare and Biotech Cluster in Leipzig

Five factors for success: Why Leipzig is an industry leader in Germany

Leipzig is one of Germany’s leading centres for biotechnology – an industry that is experiencing extremely dynamic growth. Innovative technologies for the healthcare industry of tomorrow are researched, developed to market maturity, and applied right here in the congress city. The focus is on modern healthcare with smart medical products, e-health applications, and high-performance medicine and diagnostics. The city is a global leader in the development, production and logistics of cell therapeutics. These and other factors contribute to the fact that the international who’s who of medicine and biotech meet in Leipzig to connect with other experts.Congresses such as BIO-Europe 2022 and OTWorld are an impressive testament to this. In this article, we show you how Leipzig has made this leap and which events are planned here.

1. Saxony’s “biotechnology offensive”

200 million euros to grow the industry

Leipzig is committed to promoting an innovative and strong industrial sector: biotechnology. With its broad range of applications, biotech is advancing to become a key technology of the 21st century. It is helping make personalised medicine – in the form of gentle yet effective therapies – a reality. The fact that Leipzig and the wider Saxony region occupy a leading position in Germany in this area, is the result of a foresighted funding policy on the part of the Free State. “The foundations were laid 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,” explains André Hofmann from biosaxony, the association for biotechnology, medical engineering and the healthcare industry in Saxony. “In a way, that was the initial spark for the industry,” says Dr Ronny Schulz from the City of Leipzig Office for Economic Development, which is responsible for the Healthcare and Biotech Cluster. “Our approach was to support not only research, but also companies that would then bring the knowledge to market. That was a big advantage over other funding projects that only took the research side into account. It has given rise to many innovative products and technologies.” The offensive paid off: the industry is now flourishing. In 2021 there were more than 45,000 people working in the healthcare industry, which corresponds to growth of about 96 per cent compared to 2005.

2. “Healthcare and Biotech Cluster” drives boom

To increase Leipzig’s economic clout, the city’s economic policy brings together a wide range of activities with a view to developing clusters. Dr Ronny Schulz has been watching the developments keenly and sees further opportunities to carve out a position in the global sector through collaboration between facilities in Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig. “We have hardly any problems finding qualified professionals – from production workers to academic specialists, we are tending to see an influx and an increase in demand. Leipzig is an attractive and lucrative place to live, and people don’t have far to travel when commuting. After graduation, BIO CITY LEIPZIG and the BioCube – a building complex with laboratory, office and production space – offer a wide range of opportunities for up-and-coming companies. With SaxoCell, the association of leading research institutes and medical facilities from Saxony, a nationally funded ‘future cluster’ with enormous potential has been created,” adds Dr Schulz. A promising symbiosis that is already bearing fruit: the cluster, formed from institutes and medical facilities such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI and the Leipzig University Cancer Centre, won the “Clusters4Future” innovation competition organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
But the flagship projects also include digital innovations. For example, in December 2021 the Helios Park-Klinikum Leipzig began operating Germany’s first private 5G standalone campus network in a hospital.
One overarching industry cluster is the Saxony-wide association for biotechnology, medical engineering and the health industry. biosaxony’s members currently include around 140 companies, scientific institutions, stakeholders and suppliers from all over Saxony. As for smart medical products and therapies, with its Medical Forge accelerator programme biosaxony now also supports international start-ups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises on their way into the German healthcare market.

3. Cutting-edge lab space in BIO CITY LEIPZIG plus airport as extra site advantage

In a central location in Germany, the centre of biotechnology in Saxony can be found in the south-east of the city of Leipzig: BIO CITY LEIPZIG. Since 2003, companies and research institutes in red biotechnology – the branch that deals with developing therapeutic and diagnostic procedures – as well as the life sciences and healthcare industry have been based here. On the former trade fair grounds at “Alte Messe”, an excellent infrastructure has been created in the form of the BioCity Campus, which facilitates fruitful synergies between the resident companies and research centres. Over a total of 20,000 square metres of space, this is where companies conduct research and work together with six biotech-oriented university chairs and non-university institutions. The buildings offer their tenants modern, individually equipped laboratory and office facilities. Particularly for start-ups and young companies from the life science sector, and their partners and investors, the location is highly attractive and is growing steadily, as also shown by the ground-breaking ceremony for the current project for a new laboratory building, the BioSquare Leipzig. Another plus point: Leipzig/Halle Airport is an international hub for air freight. Cargo planes are permitted to take off and land around the clock – a decisive factor for investors, for example when it comes to the rapid transport of highly sensitive cell therapeutics in Europe or between the US and Germany.

4. Leipzig has pioneering companies in the healthcare industry

The largest healthcare centre in the Central German region is Leipzig University Hospital, which has more than 7,300 employees and another 900 in training from 70 nations. There is close cooperation between Leipzig University Hospital and the university’s Faculty of Medicine – in research, teaching and patient care. Research findings benefit patient care and medical training alike. With the Heart Center Leipzig, the city currently has Europe’s second largest heart transplant centre.
By far the largest cell bank in Europe – and the third largest worldwide – was created in 2021 through the merger of Vita 34 and the Polish cell bank PBKM. Vita 34 is an expert in the storage of stem cells obtained at birth from the umbilical cord. Stem cells are the basis of a variety of medical applications. Also based in Leipzig is Haema AG, the corporate headquarters of Germany’s largest private blood donation service. The St. Georg group is one of the largest operators of healthcare facilities in the region. Every year, about 42,000 people are treated as inpatients and day patients, with another 125,000 outpatients. The infectious diseases and tropical medicine clinic is one of seven such competence and treatment centres in Germany. As the only centre of its kind in Saxony, the group’s severe burns centre treats up to 200 burn patients every year.

5. Up to date

International medical trade fairs and world congresses

Leipzig’s success in the field of biotechnology is also reflected in its popularity as a place to hold conferences and congresses. The city is the venue for leading medical industry meetings. Among them this year is Europe’s largest partner conference in the life science sector and the biotech industry’s most important conference: BIO-Europe 2022. Around 4,500 international participants from more than 2,500 pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical engineering companies are expected in 2022. Leipzig is also the venue for the annual international LINC symposium for medical technologies and innovative medical systems, as well as OTWorld – the largest and leading international industry gathering for all manufacturers, distributors and service providers in the medical aids sector. In its unique combination of world congress and top international fair, OTWorld brings together experts and audiences from all five continents every two years. The Leipzig Veterinary Congress is the biggest continuing education event for veterinarians in German-speaking countries and one of the leading specialist platforms in Europe. MEDCARE, a congress and trade fair for clinical and non-clinical patient care, is the only event in Germany to offer a comprehensive range of continuing education courses in the fields of care management and treatment. The events taking place in 2022 include the Congress of the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine, and the annual congresses of the German Society of Surgery (DGCH), the German Society for Epileptology (DGfE) and the German Society for Dermatosurgery.

Conclusion

Leipzig has the best of both worlds: science and the healthcare industry. Highly innovative, transfer-oriented research institutions, well-connected life and engineering sciences from several universities, a start-up-oriented environment, and excellent laboratory and office facilities in the BioCube and BIO CITY LEIPZIG show the city has forged a productive alliance between science and business. The prospects speak for themselves: in 2025, Leipzig’s biotech scene will have a new hotspot with the Innovation Centre in the former exhibition hall 12.

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