The UK continues to dominate the European life sciences sector, with over three times the number of public biotech companies than any other European country, according to Ernst & Young. However, there are signs that the UK’s dominance will be challenged in coming years. Last year, only one of the top ten venture financings during the year was in a UK biotech company and none of the top ten IPO fundraisings were undertaken by UK companies.
Countries presenting significant opportunities at the moment include Switzerland and Germany with the latter’s Statefunded expansion of the biotech industry reaping rewards. The German market is fast catching up with the UK, with growth of 150% over the past three years. Opportunities are also scattered around France, The Netherlands and Belgium. Investment opportunities in biotech in the emerging markets in Eastern Europe, however, are scarce. This is due to a lack of physical infrastructure and proper administrative and legal systems.
The two major hubs for the VC community in this sector are London and Munich. Activity in Munich over the past few years has put it on the life science/biotech map, which has been aided by the German government’s soft loans that help academics spin companies out of research institutes. Zurich is also home to a number of wellestablished biotech investors. Paris is also comparatively large.