For a long time, the German biotech industry was regarded as a wallflower among the German industry of the future: too little success, too high a risk, too little financial power. But now, for the first time in years, the industry is on the upswing again. The total of 578 companies recorded not only higher sales and rising employee numbers in the past year.
Investors were also prepared for the first time in years to invest significantly more in biotech “Made in Germany”. This is the result of biotechnologie.de’s latest biotech industry report commissioned by the
Federal Ministry of Research, which is exclusive to Die Welt.
Record mark in sales cracked
As shown in the annual report, biotech companies’ sales in 2014 broke the record of three billion euros, an increase of almost six percent over the previous year. For the first time since the crisis year 2008,
spending on research and development has risen again, by six percent to 954 million euros.
Observers see this as a strong signal for the growing confidence within the industry. As a kind of wake-up call, especially the entry of US billionaire Bill Gates is seen. In March, he had invested 46 million euros in the Tübingen vaccine manufacturer CureVac through his Gates foundation.
The entry of the billionaire patron could help the industry to make the long-awaited breakthrough. In any case, the interest of foreign investors in the German biotech inventors is increasing – which is probably due to the fact that many local companies are regarded as significantly undervalued compared to biotech companies in the USA or Great Britain.
More risk capital collected
Overall, the German biotech companies collected the study last year, 445 million euros on IPOs, capital increases, venture capitalists or subsidies. Above all, the privately financed companies have caught up
significantly: they solicited 172 million euros in so-called venture capital. That’s an increase of 26 percent compared to the previous year.
“2014 was a year of growth for the German biotech industry, with private financing in particular up significantly. It is gratifying that the investor base is also getting broader again, “commented Boris Mannhardt, Managing Director of industry analyst Biocom, the results.
On the other hand, the public funds raised declined. These dropped from previously 49 million to only 44 million euros. The capital increases on the stock market even saw a decline of 30 percent. However, the industry was able to compensate for this partly by first place placements, because for the first time since 2006 two German biotech companies dared to go public again. As an employer, biotechnology is also gaining importance. Almost 18,000 people in Germany now work in the industry, almost 1,000 more than in the previous year. The majority of companies – 104 in all – are
still based in Bavaria, closely followed by Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia.
More than half of all German biotech companies are active in the field of health, the so-called “red” biotechnology. The remainder is distributed among “white” industrial or “green” agricultural
biotechnology and services. However, the vast majority of German biotech medicine companies rely on the development of
technology platforms or diagnostics. With the pure drug development, which is due to numerous clinical tests as extremely expensive and research-intensive, but at the same time holds the greatest
opportunities for a worldwide breakthrough, are occupied according to the information only 51 German biotech companies – after all, three more than last year.