Medical biotech boosts innovation in Germany

Germany’s healthcare industry plays a major role in the economy’s consistent high placement in global innovation indices. Medical biotechnology in particular helps give Germany an edge in the ranking tables.

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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) counted Germany among the top ten most innovative countries in the world in 2022. Bloomberg in its 2021 Global Innovation Index ranked Germany as the fourth most innovative, following only South Korea, Singapore, and Switzerland.

Industry analysts attribute this achievement to a large extent to Germany’s dynamic medical biotechnology sector. They note that small and middle-sized enterprises (SME) make key contributions, together with pharmaceutical giants like Bayer and BioNTech.

Analysts and industry sources such as Germany’s Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa) say a high level of investment in research and development (R&D) sets the foundation for this performance. Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), for example, invested a total of EUR 1.6 billion in the past two years in research into Corona alone.

Even before the pandemic, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY’s profile of the medical biotechnology sector showed companies dedicating the equivalent of more than a quarter of their turnovers to R&D. Sources within the sector expect this to continue. The latest survey of biotechnology companies by the industry association BIO Deutschland showed that 57 percent of the respondents were intending to increase their R&D investments even further in the future.

BioNTech, a company deeply rooted in science, was once an SME itself. Its history, beginning with the founders’ groundbreaking work on mRNA and immune response in cancer treatment to the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, illustrates how R&D can blaze a trail to innovative products.

Biofrontera provides another example of how German medical biotechnology translates the results of basic research into innovations that serve patients around the world. The Leverkusen-based company is specialized in photodynamic therapy, dermatological drugs, and medical cosmetics. It has successfully licensed a drug and a medical device in both the EU and the US. Biofrontera developed the ointment, known as Ameluz®, and the device, a red-light lamp called BF-RhodoLED® in-house. The drug and lamp are used together to treat some types of superficial skin cancers and their precursors. What is more, the method is currently in clinical trials for broader indications.