The latest economic figures on biotechnology were presented at the German Biotechnology Days held in Berlin on 21st and 22nd April 2010. The figures show that German biotechnology companies have not lost their innovation power despite the global financial crisis. In 2009, the companies’ R&D expenditures of around one billion euros remained at a similar high level to the previous year. The biotechnology industry is creating new jobs despite the crisis.
At the recent Biotechnology Days in Berlin, Dr. Georg Schütte, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) said: "Despite the financial crisis, German companies have nevertheless been able to create new jobs, resulting in more people than ever before being employed in commercial biotechnology. This clearly shows the importance of innovative technologies as drivers for the German economy."
The State Secretary also announced the BMBF's intention to make additional investments totalling around 50 million euros for the next three to five years into research projects in the field of plant biotechnology. "In a bio-economy geared to sustainability, we need to use plant raw materials even more efficiently than before," said Dr. Schütte. The BMBF is providing a total of around 270 million euros in 2010 to fund projects in the field of biotechnology.
On behalf of the BMBF, the biotechnologie.de information platform has been providing economic figures for German biotechnology companies since 2006. The figures are compiled according to international guidelines set out by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to biotechnologie.de, 531 biotechnology companies employed around 15,000 people in 2009. In addition, there were around 16,600 people employed in the biotechnologically oriented business areas of the pharmaceutical, chemistry and seed companies. The number of people employed in commercial biotechnology increased to 31,600 (up 5% over the previous year’s figures).German biotechnology companies are predominantly active in the following business fields: services, diagnostics and industrial biotechnology. Only a handful of drug developers among the German biotechnology companies have so far been able to launch commercial products. The first breakthrough was achieved in 2009 with the development in Germany of the first antibody to receive marketing authorisation as an anti-cancer drug.
In 2009, biotechnologie.de gathered information for the first time about the biotechnological activities of German research institutions. The survey showed that around 27,000 people were employed by more than 700 research institutions with a particular focus on biotechnological projects. In 2008, the research institutions had a budget of 2.8 billion euros and also acquired 1.1 billion euros in third-party funding. “The figures show that biotechnology has become an integral part of science and industry, and is also able to withstand financial crises,” highlighted State Secretary Dr. Schütte. The BMBF plans to drive this development forward in the future. “We would like to turn biotechnology into a pillar of a knowledge-based bio-economy,” said Dr. Schütte going on to add that the German government’s objective is to enable sustainable, ecological, efficient and competitive economic activities in Germany. “We will present our overall concept in a new framework programme on bio-economy in 2010,” announced the State Secretary.The BMBF will also continue its “GO-Bio” biotechnology initiative started in 2005. The fourth call for applications will be published in 2010. The first three funding rounds provided financial support to 28 teams with a funding volume of around 65 million euros. This has lead to the establishment of six start-up companies and the establishment of further start-up companies is expected in the not-too-distant future.The German Biotechnology Days 2010, held in Berlin from 21st to 22nd April, are a national forum that attracted 600 biotechnology experts from science and industry.The “Die deutsche Biotechnologie-Branche 2010” report published by biotechnologie.de can be downloaded through the link in the upper right-hand corner.