I. Modern biotechnology
The vast majority of biotech companies are active in medical biotechnology. Without biotechnology, modern drug research and development (such as anticancer drugs, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or diabetes) is more feasible today. According to the Business Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), sales of genetically modified drugs (biopharmaceuticals) in Germany grew by 12.4
percent to 9.3 billion euros in 2016 (previous year: 8.2 billion euros).
The vast majority of German biotech companies are working on new medicines (medicines, diagnostics, vaccines) or offering services in these areas. The share of biopharmaceuticals in the entire German pharmaceutical market in 2016 was 24.8 percent. Tendency continues to rise. In terms of production capacity for biopharmaceuticals, Germany ranks second worldwide – and first in Europe.
In the area of industrial biotechnology, emphasis is placed on more environmentally friendly processes and products, for example by developing biochemicals, replacing conventional plastics or using enzymes
and microorganisms in production or pollutant degradation. With the help of industrial biotechnology, for example, biomass-derived starch, cellulose and oils can be used as starting materials for the production of energy, fuels and bio-based products.
Also in almost all other sectors, such as in the food, cosmetics, paper, construction, automotive or textile industry, there are both environmental and economic benefits.
Biotechnology as a cross-cutting technology therefore plays a central role on the way to a sustainable (cycle) economy. Such a knowledge-based bioeconomy, producing, processing or using in any way virtually all industrial and economic sectors and their related services, biological resources (plants, animals, microorganisms), but also residues and waste, follows the approach of use renewable resources efficiently and sustainably. Here, all application areas of biotechnology must be linked
Plant biotechnology can make an important contribution to nutrition, energy production or the production of bio-based products. A need for action exists with regard to a broad social acceptance of plant biotechnology.
II. Current Development / Perspective
With 647 companies, Germany has ranked first in Europe in terms of number of companies for years. In terms of the size of the companies, sales, products and market capitalization, however, there is a need to catch up with the United Kingdom and the world market leader USA.
The key figures for the German biotechnology industry have changed insofar as the figures for the biotechnology industry since the survey for 2015 have been compiled by Ernst & Young together with the biotechnology association BIO Deutschland.
Overcoming funding bottlenecks remains one of the biggest challenges for the industry. Due to high R & D expenditures there is a high capital requirement compared to other sectors.
What is BMWi doing for the biotech industry?
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is committed to improving the framework conditions at national, EU and international level, promoting an innovation-friendly climate in Germany and strengthening social acceptance for new technologies.
The Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) supports cooperation and network projects as well as individual projects. In addition, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is helping to close financing gaps for innovative companies. For young companies in the biotechnology sector, u.a. the co- investment fund Coparion and the High-Tech Gründerfonds III, the ERP / EIF fund of funds of particular
interest. The venture capital investment grant improves the capitalization of young innovative companies by subsidizing investments from private investors in startups.
In addition, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) founded a new subsidiary in 2018 together with KfW Capital. The aim of the joint initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Federal Ministry of Finance and KfW is to strengthen the VC and VD fund landscape in Germany and Europe in order to increase access to capital for young innovative, fast-growing technology companies in Germany to improve the startup and growth phase.
In addition, the ERP Special Fund managed by the BMWi, in cooperation with the European Investment Fund (EIF), participates in further financing programs for young, innovative companies and start-ups from the biotech industry.
On the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, a regulation was adopted to improve the creditability of loss carryforwards, which came into effect retroactively to January 1, 2016. In addition, further reliefs were introduced with the Annual Tax Act 2018.
With the Export Initiative Health Economy, the BMWi is helping to make medical biotechnology products globally successful.
One study is currently investigating how the bioeconomic progress can be made measurable and visible.