Gedeon Richter’s 2010 sales were approximately €1 billion ($1.3 billion), while its market capitalization was €3 billion ($4 billion).
The company has also been in the vanguard of CEE biotech. In 2007, the firm established biotech R&D and manufacturing facilities, unique in Hungary at the time, for the large-scale fermentation of recombinant proteins.
Other notable Hungarian biotech successes are Solvo Biotechnology, which has operated for over 10 years, offering a range of drug-transporter assays on a contract research basis.
“From a standing start we now have 450 customers in 35 countries including all major pharma and biotech companies,” comments Duda, who is also founder, president, and CEO of Solvo. “I think this is because we have been global in our outlook and are one of only three CROs in the world that can offer all the ADME/Tox transporter tests the FDA requires and the only company that can do all that the EMEA requires in one location.
“Companies also come to us because our science is solid; there are some assays that only we can do really well. We offer cost-effective services, and companies know that their IP is protected because Hungary has to comply with EU IP regulations, and this offers a good level of protection for their science.”
Why is Hungary ahead of the game in CEE despite having a quarter of the population of Poland and the same population size as the Czech Republic? Many at “BioForum” believe the Polish and Czech biotech markets are underdeveloped for a number of reasons.
“Hungary has good links with Austria because of its historical Austro-Hungarian empire days,” says Pawel Przewiezlikowski, CEO of Selvita, Poland’s largest drug discovery company. “So until very recently it was seen as a slightly safer passage into Eastern Europe than placing a company in Poland or the Czech Republic.”