With the University of Excellence Heidelberg, its two medical faculties and two university clinics in Heidelberg and Mannheim as well as leading national and international research centers, the Rhine-Neckar region has established a unique research and development network in medicine, life sciences and medical technology. It is integrated into a potent economic environment in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, which is already influenced today by more than 950 companies in the fields of biotechnology, medical technology and medical developments – from large international companies to small and medium-sized companies to a lively and successful one Start-up scene.

The region is particularly recognised for its excellence in the field of cancer, immunology, cutting edge imaging and omics, holding an enormous potential for translation into clinical health applications. The cluster BioRN is bringing together stakeholders from the

global pharma industry with leading academic institutions amongst its members. Cluster also drives a range of translational initiatives in order to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can compete with other centers of excellence on an international level.

Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance

In order to make the region even better known and more competitive internationally, the “Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance”. In addition to the universities in Heidelberg and Mannheim, the university clinics as well as the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPImF) and the Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) are among the partners. The Federal state of Baden-Württemberg is providing a total of €40m as part of the innovation campus funding.

  • Central cluster stakeholders: BioRN, Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance 
  • Economy: around 950 pharmaceutical, biotech and medical technology companies, including more than 400 SMEs
  • Start-ups: targeted funding through the BioLab Incubator and the “BRIDGE beLAB22” initiative

The region consists of a network bringing together large international companies such as BASF, Merck, Sanofi and Roche as well as a dense portfolio of more than 400 small and medium-sized companies active in the healthcare industry. Since the 1990s, the BioRN Life Science Cluster has contributed to the networking of the various stakeholders and represented the region on the national and international stage.

In order to promote the location as an innovation hub and also to gain more international competitiveness in the battle for talent and top researchers, the "Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance" was launched in summer 2021. In addition to the universities in Heidelberg and Mannheim and the two university clinics, there are the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPImF) and the Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) as partners on board. The Federal state of Baden-Württemberg provides a total of €40m as part of the innovation campus funding. The alliance was initiated with regard to the planned merger of the University Hospitals Mannheim and Heidelberg and its medical faculties. A merged major clinic with a campus in Heidelberg and one in Mannheim would be among the largest university clinics in Germany with more than 3,300 beds. Connected with a likewise merged medical faculty of the University of Heidelberg at two locations and closely linked to the outstanding facilities of life science research this stakeholder would be embedded in a highly dynamic urban economic and industrial area.

Through the support of BioRN, the Hamburg-based biotech company Evotec and the pharmaceutical company Bristol Meyers Squibb have launched the translation initiative BRIDGE beLAB2122 in April 2021, in order to cooperate more closely with the DKFZ, the EMBL as well as the Goethe University in Frankfurt and the universities in Heidelberg and Tübingen. The aim of the alliance is to create an attractive integrated framework for innovative academic projects with spin-off potential. 

Furthermore, in 2021, the start-up incubator BioLabs Heidelberg was started as a another growth engine for the region.

Contact points for founders

With its numerous scientific institutions, the Rhine-Neckar region offers good framework conditions for spin-offs. In addition to the start-up and translation centers that are already integrated in the diverse research institutions, the life sciences start-up incubator BioLabs Heidelberg, which works closely with the BioRN cluster, was launched in August 2021. It is intended to offer young start-up teams close networking with the most important regional players in the healthcare industry as well as the necessary infrastructure of laboratories and offices to put their ideas into practice as fast as possible.

In addition, the BRIDGE beLAB2122 translation initiative launched by Evotec and Bristol Meyer Squibb in April 2021. Under this umbrella, innovative projects from the participating research institutions in the region will receive targeted support to spin-off and found new ventures.

In addition, there are other technology parks in the Rhine-Neckar region that support the establishment of companies. For more than 30 years already, the Heidelberg Technology Parc has taken over this task. In addition, further locations include the Pfungstadt Biotech Parc, the medtch-focused start-up incubator CUBEX at the university campus in Mannheim and the MAFINEX Technology Center in Mannheim.