More than 820 companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical engineering generate 5.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employ a workforce of approximately 52,000 people (see www.lifescienceaustria.at).
Foreign companies also specifically rely on the research competence of Austrian bioscientists. For example, Sandoz, a subsidiary of the Novartis Group of Switzerland, has located its global competence center for biotechnology in Tyrol. Sandoz invested 100 mio. EUR in an expansion of their center. Shire’s Austrian facility is the company’s largest outside of the USA.
Companies and startups in the therapeutic, medical technology and diagnostic sectors and providers of key technologies create a dynamic environment for research. Every second biotech company is located in the hot spot of Vienna, including the Campus Vienna Biocenter, one of the leading biomedical research centers in Central and Eastern Europe. The focal points of the research being conducted include oncology, neurology, vaccines and immunology as well as precision medicine and e-health.
Sonja Polan from Life Science Austria (LISAvienna) explains the strengths of the business Location Austria.
Booming biotech scene
336 companies operate in the fields of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. This sector is characterized by an impressive intensity of research. The approximately 100 specialized biotech firms invested the equivalent of 70 % of their total revenue in research in 2014. Primary areas of research include the efforts to win the battle against cancer and infectious diseases. The biotech sector has become an important economic factor, generating revenue of more than EUR 11.7 billion in Austria in 2014. Companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Takeda and Sanochemia account for the lion’s share. About one quarter of these firms operate in the core business of “red” and “white” biotechnologies. Vienna is the country’s biotech stronghold, with the Austrian capital home to every second biotech firm.
Revolutionary medical engineering
A total of 487 companies in Austria are involved in a broad spectrum of research areas, with a particular focus on electromechanical medical technology and software development. Firms producing high quality medical products include the German optics company Carl Zeiss and MED-EL, the specialist for hearing implants. The Vienna-based facility of the medical technology company Ottobock headquartered in Germany specializes in the development of high-tech prostheses. The German company Fresenius Medical Care, global market leader for dialysis therapies and products, opened its R&D center in Austria.
Total revenue in the sector was close to EUR 7.5 billion in 2014. Austria’s exceptionally good health care system, world-renowned clinics and excellent research facilities all comprise outstanding business location advantages for the medical engineering sector.
World-class cancer research
For decades, finding a cure for cancer has been one of the main goals of research in the field of health care, also in Austria. For example, the Oncotyrol competence center in Innsbruck is working with Austrian and international partners to transfer its research findings in the field of personalized cancer medicine from the laboratory to the sickbeds of patients. Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies, operates three large research and development centers around the world, one of which is located in Vienna i.e. its center for cancer and basic research at the Research Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP). In 2017 they invested 700 mio. EUR in their R&D-facility.
More facts and figures on life sciences in Austria can be found in the Life Sciences Report Austria.
Foreign life sciences companies in Austria
- Boehringer Ingelheim: global cancer research center
- Shire (earlier: Baxalta BioScience): Development and production Biopharmaceuticals for rare and undertreated diseases (hematology, oncology and immunology). Austria is Baxalta’s most important location outside of the USA
- ottobock: Research & development as well as the production of hightech prostheses for the global market
- Sandoz (Novartis): Global competence center for biotechnology research and production of generic drugs
- Bionorica: Research into medicinal plants focusing on analytics, development and production
- Octapharma: Development and production of medicines from human plasma