Biotechnology is an important driver of innovation in the Berlin-Brandenburg health region. The industry is experiencing steady growth and a high level of start-up dynamism. What makes the region particularly strong is the high concentration and networking of science, clinics and business.

With over 21,000 companies and around 380,000 employees, the health sector and health economy have a particular impact on the capital region. Within the local biotech sector, the majority of 80% are active in the health sector. More than 600 companies from biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology also benefit from the proximity to decision-makers from politics and healthcare. In addition, there is the geographic location of the German capital region, which enables good access to Western, Central and Eastern European markets.

Berlin-Brandenburg is among the largest and most diverse scientific regions in Europe. Around 40 scientific institutions related to life science are represented in the region, including the Charité University Hospital, the Brandenburg Theodor Fontane Medical University, the Berlin Institute for Health Research (BIH), and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German Heart Center Berlin and other well-known Fraunhofer, Helmholtz, Leibniz and Max Planck Institutes in Berlin and Brandenburg.

The Federal states of Brandenburg and Berlin also have a wide range of actors in science and business who focus on bioeconomy, circular economy as well as sustainable nutrition and agriculture. The clusters “Plastics and Chemistry” and “Food Industry” in Brandenburg, as well as the “Energy Technology Berlin-Brandenburg” cluster are platforms to network and foster relations among different stakeholders. Under the umbrella of the “Clean Technologies” cross-sectional technology, the City of Berlin focuses on targeted support for compaies active in the sustainabitliy area. A dynamic food innovation scene has formed around the Beuth University, the EUREF Campus and the Food Tech Campus of the food chain Edeka. This in turn has led to the settlement of some food innovation-focused investors and company builders. These include Atlantic Food Labs and Hungry Ventures, among others.

  • Central cluster & networks: Cluster Health Economy Berlin Brandenburg - HealthCapital; Cluster “Plastics and Chemistry”,  and cluster “Food Industry”, bothin  Brandenburg; Cluster “Energy Technology” Berlin-Brandenburg; Food Tech Campus Edeka, EUREF Campus; Nutrition Strategy Berlin
  • Economy: Around 600 companies are dedicated to health activities
  • Overall high density of start-ups, investors and accelerators

Focus on the health economy

More than 80% of the roughly 250 biotech companies are active in biomedicine. Many of the around 330 medical technology companies specialise in digital health solutions, cardiovascular technologies and diagnostic imaging. In addition to the biotech and medtech landscape, the capital region has a considerable tradition in drug development. Globally active companies such as Bayer, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda, Thermo Fisher or Berlin-Chemie (as part of the Menarini Group) and more than 20 medium-sized companies offer jobs for around 11,000 employees. Well-known medtech companies such as Biotronik, Ottobock, B.Braun, Berlin Heart and Eckert & Ziegler have locations and branches in the region.

Five universities and three technical colleges provide biotechnologically relevant expertise in their curriculum. With the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, the Resource Center of the Human Genome Project and the German Rheumatism Research Center, the region has a very broad research landscape in the field of biotechnology. With the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) at the Charité Universitätsmedizin there is a player specialised in start-up support.

Bioeconomy and sustainable nutrition

With more than 500 companies and over 13,000 employees, the plastics and chemistry cluster demonstrates the importance of the chemical industry for Brandenburg. In addition, the region is home of several chemical parks and production sites. For many years already,  sustainable production processes are on the top of the agenda of many stakeholders, in particular with regard to biopolymers and plastic recycling. In the food industry, over 3,400 companies are active along the value chain with more than 57,000 employees. To this, around 20 scientific institutions including the University of Potsdam, the TU Berlin, the Humboldt University, the University for Sustainable Development in Eberswalde, the German Institute for Nutritional Research (Dife), the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy, as well as for Vegetables and Ornamental Plant Cultivation and the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) can be added.

In Berlin, all activities regard food innovestion are bundled under the umbrella of the “Berlin Nutrition Strategy”. From autumn 2021, a platform will be established as a first contact for stakeholders in the fields of sustainability, food innovation (including cultured meat, fish and dairy) and urban farming. A so-called “nutrition atlas” is to provide an overview of competences.

Berlin-Brandenburg is known as the home of a lively startup scene. Access to venture capital is well above average across Europe, as is the density of the start-up landscape, which also includes numerous biotech spin-offs and spin-offs from universities and non-university research institutions.

Contact points for founders

The large pool of international talent and the dynamic startup scene are decisive criteria for established companies to locate development centers in the capital region and to enter into new forms of cooperation with young companies in so-called labs, incubators or accelerators. There are more than 60 accelerators in Berlin alone. In the health industry, too, there are more and more specific programs for health & life science startups. A selection of accelerators and incubators from the health sector that are regularly open:

  • Bayer G4A
  • Pfizer Healthcare Hub
  • Flying Health
  • Helios.hub
  • Startupbootcamp Digital Health
  • Heartbeat Labs
  • B Braun Accelerator
  • The bridgeheads
  • Digital Health Factory
  • Techcode
  • Telekom Hub: raum
  • Vision Health Pioneers

In the area of ​​food innovation, the Edeka Food Tech Campus has established itself as a central point of contact for start-ups focusing on novel solutions.

Numerous technology parks also provide companies in Berlin-Brandenburg with areas, laboratories and rooms depending on their specific needs: