Boston and Berlin can benefit from cooperation

Collaboration on biotech industry will drive economic growth in both regions

Five years ago, the city of Berlin and several of its biotech businesses sent a delegation to the BIO International Convention, which was held in Boston that year. It was a successful trip; several connections were made with businesses in Boston’s growing biotech sector, including a signed agreement with MassMEDIC to build and strengthen collaboration between the two cities. And, some Boston companies had interest in considering Berlin to establish their European headquarters, and ultimately did.

We’re coming back to Boston this June for BIO, with a bigger group and even more hope to foster new collaborations and partnerships in the area.

Both of our regions are global hubs for biotechnology with a broad variety of biotech companies and a strong scientific background. And, though Berlin and Boston are like all highly industrialized regions in competition for foreign direct investments, they are even more allies for economic growth and more jobs in knowledge-based economies such as biotech and life sciences. So, it is not surprising that Massachusetts is the only state to run its own office for business development in Berlin.

Our efforts for the development of biotechnology in the Berlin-Brandenburg region have been successful. Today, we have the highest density of biotech companies in Germany, and we are one of the top biotech regions in Europe. Internationalization is very advanced, and there are clear signs that the next growth leap is imminent, something that would not have happened without close international cooperation.

In the last 15 years, the number of biotech companies in Berlin and the German capital region has more than tripled. If Boston area companies are thinking about expanding to Europe, they should consider Berlin with its abundance of advantages. One example is Parexel International, a Massachusetts-based company that is doing clinical studies and drug testing very successfully in Berlin.  Parexel continues its rapid growth in Berlin because the region is not only strong in biotech, but in the whole life science sector – from top-level clinical research in Europe`s largest university hospital, the Charité, to renowned medtech companies like Biotronik, inventors of the first German pacemaker with a key office in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Further, Professor Peter Seeberger, a director at the Max-Planck Institute of Colloids and Surfaces in Potsdam, Germany, served as a professor at MIT in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. His laboratory there resulted in a company called Ancora Pharmaceuticals, a Woburn-based company which is currently developing a promising vaccine for malaria.

The Berlin Center for Genome Based Bioinformatics (BCB) and the Network Glycobiotechnology Berlin-Brandenburg, two major, specialized biotech networks, have partners and research collaborations in the U.S.

Meet the Author
Because biotech means business in Berlin and in Boston, by continuing to work closely our two regions can find answers to the challenges of the future and together turn knowledge into innovative therapies and cures, while driving economic growth and job creation.

Dr. Kai Bindseil is the managing director of BioTOP, the one stop agency for biotechnology in the capital region of Germany.