Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
For those looking for a fresh start in a different country, this list is for you.
Not too long ago, GEN conducted a poll asking readers if they would consider relocating to another country for work; nearly three in four people responded “yes” or “maybe.” With them in mind, we present a listing of six regions outside the U.S. that hold promise for securing a biopharma job based on the size of their clusters of research universities, businesses, and nonprofit research institutes, as well as the locations of job openings posted on the websites of eight pharma and biotech corporate giants—Amgen, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche—as well as the employment website LinkedIn, based on GEN visits to those websites on October 21–24. The decision to include a region was based on how many jobs were listed for the regions, and thus how strongly they compared with other regions showing fewer jobs.
Bavaria (including Munich), Germany
The region that is home to Germany’s perennially successful football club Bayern Munchen—winner of this year’s UEFA Super Cup this past August—is also a perennial success in biotech. The Bavarian region has more than 26,000 employed in more than 300 biotechs with total combined annual revenues of €10 billion (approximately $13.58 billion), with most companies and jobs based in Munich. The region emerged among winners in October when Roche said it will spend CHF 350 million ($391.7 million) at its Penzberg plant toward increased manufacturing capacity and equipment refurbishment, improvements expected to create about 200 new jobs—part of a total CHF 800 million (about $895.5 million), 500-job companywide expansion over five years. A month earlier, Eli Lilly gained access to the EXO50 nucleic acid extraction kit and other technologies of Munich-based Exosome Diagnostics to help identify key gene mutations and expression levels in blood that may be correlated with drug response and disease recurrence. While pharma giants have made news lately, about half of Bavaria’s biotechs (178) are small and medium-sized businesses whose 4,000 total jobs are the most among smaller biotechs in any German region.
East of England, U.K. (including Cambridge, London, and Oxford)
Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA in Cambridge, U.K., now part of a region large enough to account for more than half of the kingdom’s biotech employers. Yet South East England can boast of not one but three anchors, with Oxford and London joining Cambridge as sites of world-famous universities that have spawned numerous spinouts (among them Solexa, acquired in 2006 by Illumina). AstraZeneca retained its headquarters in the region, though it will move from London to Cambridge, even as it announced in March plans to eliminate 3,900 additional jobs through 2016. Cambridge alone is home to 1,535 companies, which employ some 53,203 people and generated £12.2 billion ($19.7 billion) in combined revenues last year, according to a tech-cluster map published earlier this year, but that includes high-tech as well as biopharma. Producing more spinouts from Cambridge University is the goal of a fund launched in October by Cambridge Innovation Capital, set to invest £50 million ($80.8 million) over two to three years in startups planning to expand in the region. The government has moved to encourage funding of biobusinesses, in part by allowing investors to hold shares of startups publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange within tax-free savings accounts. Another proposal would create a £300 million (around $481.1 million) Citizen’s Innovation Fund to generate crowdfunding and venture financing for new biopharmas.
Moscow, Russian Federation
More than four years after Vladimir Putin promised to transform his nation into a biotech heavyweight by 2020, the federation has several accomplishments to show for its efforts. To name just one: Bayer announced plans in September to add 800 jobs in Russia over four years, on anticipation that its sales will jump 80% by 2017, to €1.3 billion (about $1.8 billion) based on the country’s growing middle class, the likelihood of additional approved indications for Nexavar (sorefinib), and demand for recently approved colorectal cancer drug Stivarga (regorafenib). Between October 16 and 23, two Cleveland BioLabs subsidiaries agreed to team up with the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (on clinical development of Entolimod [CBLB502] for colorectal cancer, and cancer vaccine Moblian), in three-year contracts each valued at RUB 149 million (about $4.7 million). Also in October, NASDAQ and the Moscow Exchange agreed to work jointly to help grow Russia’s biotech community by facilitating access to capital for startups, and promoting listings at both exchanges as the companies go public. Russia’s biotech sector is expected to grow to $8 billion by 2015, according to a study last year from Germany’s University of Kassel—double the $4 billion Russian biotech market measured in 2009, when Putin launched “Bio 2020” with the goal of growing Russia’s share of the global biotech market to 5% from 0.2% in 2010. The EU is joining Russia in declaring a “Year of Science 2014,” starting with a conference and other events planned for November 25–27 in Moscow.
North Rhine-Westphalia (NordRhein-Westfalen), Germany
Some of the biggest biopharmas in Germany began as startups in Düsseldorf, such as Evotec and Qiagen, the latter a spinout established in 1984 by researchers from the University of Düsseldorf that grew into a global molecular diagnostics giant. Düsseldorf is one of four major cities that anchor Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia; the other three are Cologne, Dortmund, and Essen. Another NRW city, Leverkusen, is home to the headquarters of Bayer, which last year inked an up-to-€592 million ($816.9 million) R&D collaboration with Evotec to develop three drug candidates against endometriosis. According to regional industry group BIO.NRW, North Rhine-Westphalia accounts for 42% of Germany’s total biopharma revenue, generated primarily by two segments: industrial biotech and drug discovery. Yet tools/tech is growing. In April, Miltenyi Biotech, headquartered near Cologne in Bergisch Gladbach, acquired U.S.-owned two-year-old startup Owl biomedical, whose microchip-based cell sorting systems use fully closed disposable cartridges in a format designed for ease of use. Miltenyi Biotec says it will reveal more details on its plans to launch a cell purification platform using Owl’s technology by year’s end—though a check of its website suggests those plans include expansion within NRW since 14 of 24 posted jobs are in the Cologne region.
Ile-de-France region (including Paris), France
France’s largest biotech region housed about one-third (30%) of the nation’s biopharma industry as of last year, according to industry group France Biotech, a share that slipped from 33% two years earlier thanks to growth elsewhere in France, especially the Rhône-Alpes region. Yet Paris and vicinity retain one of Europe’s largest bioclusters, with many of France’s fastest-growing biotechs. They include Paris-based Ariana Pharma, which expanded to the U.S. (Cambridge, MA) and Japan over the past 18 months, and can be expected to grow further as demand grows for its clinical data analysis and diagnostic solutions. In July, Ariana was selected by the WIN Consortium to develop new personalized cancer medicine software through the WINTHER clinical trial, the first trial offering all recruited cancer patients their choice of therapy guided by individual biology. Also growing is Paris-based CRO Cardinal Systems, which in September expanded its services into North America via ClinSmart. The Paris region stands to gain even as Sanofi plans to cut a net 207 jobs across France as part of a company R&D restructuring announced in July, since the 376 research jobs the company foresees eliminating will be offset, it says, by creation of 169 new positions, mostly near Paris, where its headquarters is located. Sanofi’s reduction is far below the 2,000 jobs the pharma giant planned to eliminate last year, before responding to opposition from leaders of affected unions and the administration of France’s president François Hollande.
The world’s most populous nation is increasingly known for its fast-growing biopharma industry, especially in and around Shanghai. Among companies expanding rapidly in the region are Boehringer Ingelheim, which in September launched a €70 million ($96.6 million) expansion of its Shanghai manufacturing plant in the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, where it will also expand its chemicals R&D laboratory Center of Competence lab, recently relocated from Waigaojiao. The expansion will expand BI’s plant workforce to 350 while boosting its production capacity to over 150 million packages in 2016 and up to 220 million in 2018. The expansion is in addition to a €35 million ($48.3 million) cGMP biopharmaceuticals facility BI plans to build in a venture with Zhangjiang Biotech & Pharmaceutical Base Development Co., creating up to 65 new jobs by early 2016 when operations begin at the cGMP plant—the first in which an international company will use cell culture technology to produce biopharmaceuticals in China. Another global giant expanding its Shanghai footprint is Amgen, which said in September it plans to open an R&D center at ShanghaiTech University as part of a new strategic partnership to advance biopharmaceutical discovery and translational research in China. Four months earlier in May, Amgen and Shanghai-based Zhejiang Beta Pharma said they would commercialize Amgen’s metastatic colorectal cancer drug (mCRC) Vectibix® (panitumumab) in China through a joint venture.
All international currency figures were converted to U.S. dollars via www.xe.com on October 25.