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New biotechnology firms in Germany: Heidelberg and the BioRegion Rhine-Neckar triangle

: Krauss, G.; Stahlecker, T.


Small business economics 17 (2001), Nr.1-2, S.143-153
ISSN: 0921-898X
Fraunhofer ISI ()

In Germany, in the second half of the nineties, a dynamic development of commercial biotechnology took place, undertaken by a considerable number of new firms. The following article deals with the foundation of biotechnological firms in the BioRegion Rhine-Neckar Triangle (with the center in Heidelberg). For a long time, the development of biotechnology in Germany and in the Rhine-Neckar Triangle was hindered by institutional barriers. The main reasons were the narrowing of company strategies of big chemical and pharmaceutical firms, the low impulses to found biotechnology companies out of academic research, the institutional surroundings not aligned to the needs of biotechnology (e.g. no venture capital market) and finally government restraints concerning the specific and particularly regional concentrated support of biotechnology. These particularities are also reflected by the structure of the population of young companies in the Rhine-Neckar Triangle. The main emphasis of biotechnology firms is placed on technological services (research on demand) and platform technologies, different sub-areas of therapeutics research (pharmaceutical basic materials, finding active substances), on the production for the diagnostics industry and on bioinformatics. These companies do not co-operate much, national and international relations predominate. Only a few scientists of regional research institutions want to found a biotechnology firm, although the region seems to attract a certain number of company founders from other regions.