German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe speaks at the German Biotechnology Days

Photo: German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe © Sera Kurc and Constantin Falk
Photo: German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe © Sera Kurc and Constantin Falk

The eighth edition of the German Biotechnology Days was held on 5 and 6 April in Hanover. The leading networking platform for the German biotech industry also drew over 800 participants this year. The two-day event showcased in numerous symposia and plenaries the wide-range of research and applications in the field of biotechnology. In his keynote talk in the opening plenary, Rodger Novak, CEO of CRISPR Therapeutics, spoke about the huge potential of genome editing in the different areas of biotechnology. He emphasised that this technology could lead to the next medical breakthrough. During his visit to the exhibition, Germany Health Minister Hermann Gröhe learned about the latest biotech products and services on offer in the healthcare industry. The minister stressed in his talk what an important contribution biotechnology makes to medical R&D and to diagnostics and the drug supply chain. Oliver Schacht, CEO of the biotech firm Curetis, also gave an energetic keynote to round off the opening session. He called on the biotech community to “stop complaining and get to work”, and urged the policymakers in attendance to be bolder and “just add a zero” to biotech start-up support and growth financing of innovative companies.

German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe said: “The people in our country rightly have confidence in the good healthcare and pharmaceutical system in Germany. We owe this in part to an R&D-oriented biotechnology industry. Already today, one in five newly approved drugs comes out of biotech. And genetically engineered drugs now account for 20 percent of the statutory health insurance funds’ spending on pharmaceuticals. At the same there are high expectations for the industry. Many people are hoping for a breakthrough in cancer or Alzheimer’s treatment. We want patients now and in the future to have quick access to new, effective drugs, and we want to strengthen Germany as a location for the development and production of high-quality pharmaceuticals. With the Pharmaceutical Care Strengthening Act (AMVSG), we continue to ensure that patients have access to promising new drugs quickly.”

Peter Heinrich, chairman of the board of BIO Deutschland, summed up the event by saying: “We are naturally very pleased about the health minister’s interest in our industry and his committed contribution to our platform. It shows once again the high esteem in which he holds our association and our work. The German Biotechnology Days gave us an opportunity to highlight the tremendous innovation potential that biotechnology offers for the healthcare industry and for many other sectors of the economy.” Heinrich added that the national biotech forum was ideally suited in terms of size and breadth to showcase this potential.

The winners of the tenth BioRegions’ Innovation Prize were also announced during the Biotechnology Days. In addition, a start-up pitch competition was held to give ambitious young companies a chance to present their business ideas to an expert jury. Two of the ten start-ups participating were awarded the first prize.

The German Biotechnology Days are held every year and have become the leading networking platform for Germany’s biotech sector. The two-day event at the Deutsche Messe Convention Center provided a forum for representatives from the worlds of business, science and government, and media and public administration to exchange views and experiences. Some 160 speakers discussed the conditions for innovation in biotechnology and presented their research and development work as well as a wide range of medical and industrial biotech applications to participants from industry, research, government, public administration and the media. The eighth edition of the German Biotechnology Days was organised by BIO Deutschland, the Council of German BioRegions and the regional host BioRegioN, Lower Saxony’s life science cluster network. The next German Biotechnology Days will take place on 18 and 19 April 2018 in Berlin, and will be jointly organized with the Council of German BioRegions.

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