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The German capital region: Strong networks between science and business

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© Berlin Partner / Fotostudio Charlottenburg

The German capital region is one of the leading business locations in the world when it comes to health. What makes this region strong is its unique focus and especially close collaboration among science, hospitals and business. Numerous technology parks and networks, particularly in the fields of biotechnology, create the ideal infrastructure for rapidly transforming the latest scientific findings into innovative products for the healthcare sector.

Drug discovery and development

Biotechnology is a key driver of innovation in the region. The industry has recorded steady growth and a high level of startup dynamics; many of the biotech companies were established on site from local universities and research institutions. This is especially true for "red" biotechnology, which deals with medicine: Of the around 240 biotechnology companies with approx. 5,000 employees, about 90% are active in biomedicine. They develop innovative therapeutic and diagnostic procedures to treat cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and benefit from the strong scientific background and excellent infrastructure for clinical studies in the region. The local opportunities make the capital region attractive for global pharmaceutical companies, such as Bayer, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda.

Over 40 companies and scientific institutions focused on “drug discovery and development” are organized in the “Network for Pharma Solutions” (Net PhaSol). The network, which is funded since May, 2017, by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy as part of the “Central Mid-Sized Innovation Program” (ZIM), is working to establish itself as a platform for researching, developing, and marketing new products, procedures, and services in pharmaceutical development. Its primary focus is on the initial stages of value creation in the drug discovery cycle, although further stages of development are not excluded. The network functions as a unit, and with an attractive portfolio of services in the areas of drug discovery, target validation, lead optimization, and drug targeting offers potential customers, partners, investors, and others diverse ways to participate and cooperate. The portfolio of services not only reflects development and marketing for the network’s own products and services, but is also intended to be attractive to potential customers for contract research and development.

Regenerative medicine and glycobiotechnology

In addition to drug development, bioanalytics and diagnostics, the region has also become one of the most important centers for regenerative medicine with outstanding research in the fundamentals of biomedicines and biomaterials in Germany. Around 30 companies and 20 research institutes inside and outside of universities are working in this dynamic and growing field in the region.

The “Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Medicine” (BCRT) is an outstanding successful international translation model in the area of applied research and in translating basic research into clinical applications. In addition, regenerative medicine in the capital region has been invigorated by the Einstein-Zentrum Regenerative Therapien (ECRT), opened in early 2017, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), and the construction of the Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies in 2018. The ECRT builds on established expertise in regenerative medicine in Berlin-Brandenburg, focusing on promoting young scientists.

Onsite players possess international collaborations with countries like the USA, Israel, and Korea. The annual international RegMed Forum in Berlin offers a good place for the networking.

One more recent result of regional activities was the establishment of the glyconet Berlin-Brandenburg in 2016. The network supports research and development in glycobiotechnology, synthetic chemistry, analytical sciences and medical chemistry. The main goal is to strengthen and visualize regional skills and education in these areas of the life sciences. Soon after its kick-off in December 2016, glyconet BB set up a “Winter School” for junior scientists to provide insights on the theory and practice of glycosciences.

About 50 players in science and industry are committed to exploring the secrets of carbohydrates and focusing their research activities on the development of new approaches and applications which lead to improvements in healthcare. Key players in the academic environment are the Max-Planck-Institute for Colloids and Interfaces with Peter Seeberger as a globally renowned pioneer of glycosciences, and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

http://www.healthcapital.de/uploads/media/Glycobiotech_in_BB.pdf

Translation and technology transfer

For translational research and the interdisciplinary transfer of knowledge between researchers there are many transfer platforms on a high level. The Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) for example has emerged as an internationally visible research and translation center that sets new standards in systemic medicine thanks to the increasingly close collaboration between the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) at  https://www.bihealth.org/en/.The technology transfer unit "Berlin Health Innovations" aims to accelerate and catalyze the transformation of new discoveries and inventions of the Berlin Institute of Health and the Charité into medical products and services that improve outcome and benefit patients and society.

Meet the German capital region at BIO-Europe, booth 59.

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