Life sciences in practice

In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Munich contributed innovative research, became a hotspot for startups, and showed impressive growth in certain areas.

Hand positioniert ein gefülltes Reagenzröhrchen in Ständer

Global urgency accelerated development

Munich’s companies were primarily active in the areas of “testing procedures” and “drug development and therapeutic concepts”.  Europe’s largest laboratory chain Synlab achieved record results, in large part due to COVID-19 tests. Munich’s companies posted turnover of €3.76 billion and growth of 44 percent in 2021, some four fifths of which was attributable to the pandemic.

The drug manufacturer Dermapharm also benefited from the huge pandemic-related demand for immunity-boosting products in 2021, which was the most successful year in the company’s history.

The vaccine manufacturer Moderna moved its new German headquarters to Munich’s Werksviertel in early 2022. The company from Cambridge (MA) is globally renowned, alongside Biontech, as the second mRNA pioneer.

“Moderna is a booster for our economy, in particular for biotechnology, which is a key industry of the future.”

Katrin Habenschaden, former Deputy Mayor of Munich
Bürgermeisterin Katrin Habenschaden

Image: LHM

The hope is that Moderna will further develop its expertise in the area of personalized cancer vaccines and therapeutics in the future.

Internationally renowned biotech cluster

It is no wonder that Munich has become a magnet for the sector. The renowned biotech cluster and cluster-development organization Bio M recently celebrated 25 years of successful work.

The number of employees in biotechnology has risen over that period from 2,500 to some 19,000 today. BioM reports that there are 220 biotech companies in the Munich region. Twelve highly effective drugs have been developed, five billion euros of capital invested, and an additional two billion in infrastructure.

Porträt Prof. Ralf Huss

“The innovation-driven Munich Biotech Cluster has an exceptionally high scientific and entrepreneurial potential, which is fed by the many excellent research institutions. BioM will continue to do everything possible to leverage this potential.”

Ralf Huss, Managing Director of BioM

This success is based on the ideal mix of science and entrepreneurship that leads to innovation. Munich’s elite universities and research institutions, which are also an important source of new employees, are closely linked to BioM.

The following people shared a podium at the anniversary celebrations: Prof. Matthias Tschöp, CEO at Helmholtz Munich, Prof. Karl-Peter Hopfner, Director at the Gene Center Munich, Prof. Petra Schwille, Director of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, and Prof. Ulrike Protzer, Head of the Chair of Virology at the Technical University of Munich. They discussed startup developments in the region, funding for science, and the ongoing expansion of the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried.

Life science representatives from Munich on the podium at “25 Years of BioM 2022”

Research and startups at IZB Martinsried

The Innovation and Start-Up Center (IZB) has developed into a hotspot for biotechnology. It is based in Martinsried/Großhadern on the southern outskirts of Munich City.

Gebäude des IZB Großhadern Martinsried abends

The Innovation and Start-Up Center (IZB) has developed into a hotspot for biotechnology. It is based in Martinsried/Großhadern on the southern outskirts of Munich City.

Approximately 50 biotech companies with more than 700 employees are currently located over an area covering 26,000 m2.

An important criterion for success is the proximity to the first-class research being carried out on campus by the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry and Neurobiology, the LMU’s Biomedical Center, and other institutions.

Some renowned names began here as startups, including Morphosys (now an SDax-listed company), Medigene, and Micromet (now Amgen).

The fact that both new and established companies want additional space here is evidence of the boom the sector is currently enjoying.

“Companies already based here and looking to grow want to make use of an additional 8,000 m2. But there are also 60 startup teams lined up and hoping to come onboard.”

Hanns Zobel, Managing Director of the IZB
Porträt Hanns Zobel, IZB Geschäftsführer

Current IZB focus areas

Seven companies at the IZB are currently working on topics related to coronavirus. The company Eisbach Bio is developing an antiviral drug, while Immunic has conducted a clinical trial for a drug to treat the virus.

Above all, however, the IZB has used the attention lavished upon biotechnology since the pandemic to attract investors and public interest to the diverse and highly specialized projects of its startups. As a result, in the first half of 2022 life science investors have provided €170 million in follow-up financing for IZB companies, encompassing a huge range of projects, from substances to treat Parkinson’s to conjugate vaccines and novel mRNA therapies.  

As of: September 2022

* Source: Bavarian BioTech Inside – BioM Company survey on the COVID-19 pandemic, May 2021


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