Biotechnology is the technology of the future. In the years ahead, it will impact on a number of other industries and play a key role in shaping many areas of our life. Biotechnology products and processes are already making a significant contribution to the economic success of many sectors – from antibody-based pharmaceuticals and state-of-the-art biogas plants to energy-efficient processes in the chemical industry. According to the “Global biotechnology report 2010” published by auditors Ernst & Young, the biotech industry recorded sales of some US$ 79 billion worldwide in 2009.
However, despite its considerable potential, biotechnology still has to be subsidised in many areas, because it is highly academic and research-intensive. Long development times, high investment sums and financial difficulties in the start-up phase of new companies are putting obstacles in the way of this young industry's development.
BioRegio STERN Management GmbH was founded in 2001 to develop the full economic scope of biotechnology in the region. Our catchment area – the STERN BioRegion – encompasses the economic area around Stuttgart, Tübingen, Esslingen, Reutlingen and Neckar-Alb. This region is now home to more than 100 companies involved in biotechnology-related activities. Together they employ a workforce of around 1,700. BioRegio STERN Management GmbH is the central point of contact for these companies and for anyone who is interested in founding a new biotech business or is already in the process of founding such a company. Our aim is to firmly establish the region and its companies among the top-ranking players – both in Germany and internationally. A key factor in our strategy to develop this regional cluster is to build on existing strengths. Since 2001, Bioregio STERN Management GmbH has supported the research and development of regenerative biology and medicine, areas that traditionally occupy a prominent position in the local scientific community. Thanks to successful participation in competitions organised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), such as BioProfile and BioChancePlus, BioRegio STERN Management GmbH has secured funding of more than EUR 30 million for these areas of research. In 2009, our collaborative concept “Regenerative Medicine in the Neckar-Alb and Stuttgart health region” (REGiNA) with other partners in the region won the BMBF's“Gesundheitsregionen der Zukunft” (“Health Regions of the Future”) competition. This project is establishing a users' centre for regenerative medicine in the region.
Embedding the life sciences industry in local structures through networking with key players from other economic sectors is generating creative impulses and giving rise to new collaborations. Here, too, we focus on tapping into potential that already exists in the region. The “Biotech & Medtech” project seeks to bring together biotech companies and the region's traditionally strong medtech industry. This is a mutually beneficial process – biotechnology supplies medtech companies with new possibilities for innovation, while medical technology opens up a new and potentially lucrative sales market for biotech companies. Equally promising is the “Engineering – Life Sciences – Automation cluster initiative” (ELSA), which is bringing together the life sciences and automation industries. Engineering-driven sectors, such as the automation, automotive and mechanical engineering industries, are the key driving forces behind the region's economic power. The life sciences industry provides a source of interesting cooperation partners to forge ahead with automation solutions for the development and manufacture of biotech and medtech products.
The transfer from research to practical application in tandem with interdisciplinary networks is giving rise to a highly innovative life sciences cluster in the STERN BioRegion that covers complex value-added chains and is anchored securely in the local economy. This regional cluster formation is being augmented by transnational networking with other clusters with a similar profile. The aim of these projects (Fasilis, Net 09, BIOMATIN) is to encourage the international exchange of expertise, technological know-how and R&D resources. In this way, BioRegio STERN Management GmbH is responding to the growing need for international cooperation and networking.
»The transfer of know-how between research, development and production is an important task for the future and therefore a strategic function of business development.«
Boris Palmer, Lord Mayor of the University City of Tübingen
Be it funding programmes, interdisciplinary congresses or start-up competitions – we leave no stone unturned when it comes to promoting the regional life sciences industry.