is the thematic focus for “red”, pharmaceutical biotechnology in the BIO.NRW network.
North Rhine-Westphalia has been a strong location for biotechnology and especially for the pharmaceutical industry for more than a century. Internationally renowned companies such as Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, UCB, Grünenthal, Henkel, Evonik, to name just a few, are proof of the great importance of NRW in this environment. In addition, the state is also home to a large number of younger and start-up companies such as Qiagen, Miltenyi Biotec, AiCuris, Cygenia epigenetic diagnostics, or Priavoid. These are just a few examples of the great diversity in NRW. In times of Corona, highly innovative North Rhine-Westphalian biotech companies have drawn attention to themselves and the location by producing reliable and new diagnostic procedures, developing potential therapeutic agents, and providing important components for vaccine development.  Never before have medical biotechnology companies been so much in the focus of the public and the media as they have been these days. Throughout Germany, medical biotechnology is a key technology for innovations in the pharmaceutical industry. This is particularly true for the development of personalised medicine, stem cell research, and new cell and gene therapies. – 1
The sales of biopharmaceuticals (pharmacy and hospital market) increased again in 2019, by 13% compared to the previous year, and is thus 12.7 billion euros. Its share of sales in the total pharmaceutical market (EUR 44.1 billion) is 28.7%, an increase of 13% compared to 2018 (total market growth 6.9%).
In 2019, 33 drugs with a new active ingredient, a biosimilar active ingredient, or a new combination of known active ingredients were approved in the EU. 15 of these new approvals were biopharmaceuticals alone. Furthermore, the pipeline for new, innovative biopharmaceutical drug candidates is well filled. 640 clinical development candidates (clinical phases I to III) have been documented by the end of 2019. – 2

A 10-year comparison for the years 2009 and 2019 (published in June 2020 in the biotech report “Medizinische Biotechnologie in Deutschland 2020”) shows the growing importance of biopharmaceuticals for patients and for Germany as a pharmaceutical location. The number of approved biopharmaceutical products rose from 188 in 2009 to 319 in 2019. The biopharmaceutical pipeline (including vaccines) also grew significantly by 37% (from 468 to 648) and the number of employees increased by 54% (from 27,500 to 42,300). Biopharmaceutical sales have almost tripled in this 10-year period. – 2

Due to this enormous development and market potential, the establishment of the thematic focus was logical and appropriate. Initiated in 2010 as a strategic initiative of BIO.NRW, experts from the pharmaceutical industry, biomedical research, health care, medicine and pharmaceutical biotechnology, in particular, were brought together for interdisciplinary exchange. In the meantime, has become a stable and lasting network in NRW, with significant growth potential, of experts from a wide range of cross-sectional areas:




Medical diagnostics
Focus is placed on the quick and reliable detection of diseases and genetic defects, as well as particular vulnerabilities for certain medical problems. Additionally, the use of so-called “Companion Diagnostics” offers support for a validated treatment decision with novel and very specific pharmaceuticals.
Development of medicines
Biotechnological medicines (biopharmaceutics) are used particularly in those fields where classic substances and processes are (completely) ineffective, such as illnesses caused immunologically as well as tumor diseases.
Regenerative medicine
Procurement and reproduction of various endogenous tissues (e.g., skin, cartilage, bones) for transplantation, to replace damaged tissue and organs.
Gene therapy

Diseases that are caused by errors in human genetic information are treated by replacing the incorrect information with correct information. This is done through transmission of isolated, correct genetic information, or through intact cells with the correct genetic information. Gene therapeutic approaches have also gained enormously importance in the development of novel, complex therapeutics or biopharmaceuticals. In 2012 the first gene therapeutic was approved in the EU and in 2017 in the USA. In May 2020, 10 ATMPs had centralized approval in the EU, and five more gene therapeutics are currently in the EU approval process..

[1] DIB-Gesundheitswirtschaft-Medizinische Biotechnologie;

[2] Biotech-Report “Medizinische Biotechnologie in Deutschland 2020” von vfa bio und BCG;