A full house at the 14th German Biotech Days in Berlin

Opening plenary of the German Biotech Days © Sera Z. Kurc and Tolga Cakal

On 16th and 17th April, the bcc on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz opened its doors to the German biotech community and international visitors. More than 900 participants from 21 countries gathered in the capital for the German Biotech Days in order to connect with biotech colleagues old and new and stay abreast of current topics in the industry.

At the opening of the conference, Veronika von Messling of the Federal Research Ministry and Kristin Schreiber of the European Commission presented their respective plans to promote biotechnology in Germany and Europe. However, the actions proposed by the Commission are much more far-reaching. “Building the future with nature: Boosting biotechnology and biomanufacturing in the EU” is the title of the EU communication released in March and presented at the German Biotech Days. The participants were delighted about the prospect of so much support, even though there was concern that the ambitious plans could be shelved after the European elections. Another highlight of the opening plenary was a keynote talk on the use and importance of AI in biotechnology, given by Andreas Dengel of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

The plenary session on the second day also focused on the potential that biotechnology offers. Sandra Zimmermann of the WifOR Institute presented figures on biotech value creation in the industrial healthcare sector. According to Zimmermann, each job in medical biotechnology creates two additional jobs. Some 900 companies with almost 85,000 employees generate €14.3 billion in annual value added. The medical biotechnology segment is growing at 6.6 percent a year, more than the industrial healthcare sector as a whole. And the number of people employed in the segment is growing at 4.5 percent annually, significantly faster than across the entire industrial healthcare sector.

In his talk, State Secretary Michael Kellner of the Federal Economics Ministry broadened the perspective to include companies active in the bioeconomy and described the contribution being made by biotechnology as “incredible”. As part of a panel with other Members of the German Bundestag, Thomas Jarzombek (CDU/CSU), Stephan Seiter (FDP) and Ruppert Stüwe (SPD), he discussed what innovation policy measures are needed to make Germany an attractive and successful biotech location. The suggestions included making more use of discretionary powers, establishing a new culture of error in administrative bodies, and creating better – or better equipped – financing instruments. The panellists noted self-critically that the government had received plenty of input in the form of strategies and expert papers. The parties’ desire to achieve something before the upcoming elections next year was clearly evident in the lively discussion, which was moderated by Iris Plöger, who sits on the Executive Board of the Federation of German Industries (BDI).

The German Biotech Days programme featured many more highlights, including sessions on gene and cell therapy, cancer research, liquid biopsy, upcycling and recycling, the power of microorganisms, European and national regulations, animal testing and alternatives, IP and start-ups, financing, biotechnological crop protection, personalised medicine advances made in Berlin, as well as science slams, the presentation of the Innovation Prize of German BioRegions (see separate news item), start-up pitches and, last but not least, the symposia of the Federal Research Ministry and the Federal Economics Ministry.

The long breaks were used to network and get to know fellow attendees, as was the evening event in the Uber Eats Music Hall near the East Side Gallery. The mood there was exuberant; people chatted, ate, drank and danced.

The 14th German Biotech Days were jointly organised by BIO Deutschland and the Council of German BioRegions. The partner region of the 2024 edition was the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the city of Mainz.


You can view the photo gallery of the 14th German Biotech Days at: https://www.biotechnologietage.de/de/galerie.html

The German Biotech Days were also supported by Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, Driven, EBD Group, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and its programme “EXIST University-Based Business Start-Ups”, FGK Clinical Research, HealthCapital Berlin Brandenburg, Miltenyi Biotec, Mittelstand Global’s Health Made in Germany export initiative, QIAGEN, Rentschler Biopharma, Serana and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

You can find further information about the event at: https://www.biotechnologietage.de/en/

The next edition of the German Biotechnology Days will take place on 9th and 10th April 2025 in Heidelberg.

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