The medical sector is keeping both Berlin’s economy and events business in good health as the German capital increasingly establishes itself as a centre for science, biotechnology and pharmaceutical research. The medical, science and research sector contributed 12 per cent of the city’s conferences and events – the leading sector – in the past year, up one per cent on the previous year.

The healthcare industry is a major economic driver for the city, employing one out of eight Berliners. The capital region is home to around 300 medical technology companies, more than 230 biotechnology companies and 30 pharmaceuticals manufacturers. Major players with registered offices in Berlin include Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Bausch + Lomb, B. Braun Melsungen, Berlin-Chemie, Biotronik, Pfizer and Sanofi.

Feeding this industry are 35 large research institutes and universities focusing on the life sciences, including Europe’s largest university hospital, Charité, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin and other institutes of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and Max Planck Society, as well as the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations.

Berlin ranks among Europe’s leaders in biotechnology research, particularly in the field of red biotechnology – research applied to medical processes, such as designing organisms to produce antibiotics, and engineering of genetic cures through genetic manipulation. More than 230 biotech companies with about 4,600 employees research and develop new products and processes, including Epigenomics, Glycotope, JPT Peptide Technologies, Metanomics, MOLOGEN, NOXXON, ProBioGen und Silence Therapeutics.

About 12,000 people work in the region’s growing medical technology sector – more than 3,000 jobs were generated within the last five years. Its main focuses range from software development to the development of medical-technological devices within the fields of telemedicine/e-health, oncology, implants, medical imaging, cardiovascular system, minimally invasive surgery, orthopedics/rehab.

A key reason for Berlin’s business success in the healthcare sector is the potential for development and cooperation, due to the direct access to academic and scientific institutions. The close proximity of companies and research institutes enables interdisciplinary activity and co-operation between medicine, biotechnology, chemistry and optical technology. With more than 130 hospitals and contract research organisations (CROs), the region provides excellent opportunities for collaborating on clinical studies, alongside a large research and development test market for pharmaceutical products, medical devices and materials. There are comprehensive support programmes for research and development, while infrastructure costs for R&D are below international levels. A highly qualified labour force is replenished regularly, with 3,000 life sciences graduates per year.

This knowledge base has been recognised, with national and international associations hosting events in Berlin to tap into the medical research infrastructure. “We market specific sectors within Berlin because the city has well-known institutions in medicine and health management,” says Heike Mahmoud, Director of the Berlin Convention Office of visitberlin. 

Upcoming events include European Society of Intensive Care ‘ESICM LIVES 2015’, which is expected to bring 5,000 participants to the city from 3 – 10 October. This will be followed by the World Health Summit, internationally one of the most important strategic forums for global health, bringing more than 1,300 experts from more than 80 countries to Berlin from 11 – 13 October. Large national association events coming to Berlin include the 11,000-participant German Congress of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (20 – 23 October) and the Congress of the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy from 25 – 28 November, which will attract some 9,000 attendees.