As part of Liftstream’s on-going series of cluster profiles Liftstream has chosen to profile the Amsterdam Biotechnology Cluster. Amsterdam is one of the leading centres in Europe for Life Science research.
The Amsterdam biotech cluster has the highest concentration of life science companies in the Netherlands. The cluster ranks highly in the areas of red biotechnology which is the application of biotechnology to the healthcare sector. The cluster is centred around two key leading research universities and spread over 2 science parks. Two key leading research universities in the cluster are: The University of Amsterdam and The Vrije University Amsterdam (VU). Both of these centres excel in research both with unique areas of expertise. The University of Amsterdam is a leader in the field of Oral Regenerative Medicine and Oral Inflammation & Infection while Vrije University specialises in oncology and neuroscience. Both universities have produced a number of world leading experts in the fields of oncology and regenerative medicine. Having two leading universities present in the cluster has led to a highly creative and entrepreneurial culture. In turn, this has given rise to a number of spin off companies from the university.
Within the cluster there are currently 23 (8% of total) companies which have spun off from the universities in Amsterdam. These companies are well supported by the technology transfer office which services both universities. Companies such as DC Prime, ImmunAffect, Mucosa, IOTA Pharma and A-Skin are all successful companies which have spun out with help from the technology transfer office. Alongside this, companies in the area are ably supported by a network of venture capital companies in the bio-cluster. Venture capital companies such as Aescap Ventures and Life Science Fund Amsterdam (LSFA) have provided capital to develop ventures in the cluster. LSFA was established in 2009 and focuses on seed, early stage companies and commercially viable academic projects. They are currently supporting a number of companies including Regenesance and AIMM Therapeutics who are both developing drugs for high unmet medical needs. The Amsterdam biotech cluster has seen an increase in investment in red biotechnology in recent years and this has stimulated the growth seen in venture capital investment in the entire country.
The cluster provides the ideal setting for companies wishing to conduct clinical trials. Within the cluster there are 19 hospitals and over 100 companies supporting development in the life sciences. This coupled with a culturally diverse population as Amsterdam has over 170 nationalities, making it an ideal place to conduct clinical trials at all stages of drug development
The Amsterdam cluster is an attractive setting for companies to set up. This has led to not only a number of small biotechs in the cluster but also a number of global companies in both the Medical Device and Pharma space. The global companies in Amsterdam are a mixture of European headquarters and affiliate offices. The affiliate offices include: Bausch & Lomb, Biosensors International, Actelion, Abbott Laboratories and Nycomed (Takeda). Alongside the affiliate level offices many companies have chosen Amsterdam as the centre for their European operations. Genzyme, now part of Sanofi, established its European HQ in Amsterdam in 1991 and now employs over 400 people. With Genzyme’s prolific history in rare diseases, the company is providing a source of talent for new companies in orphan drugs, with Prosensa and to-BBB both led by Genzyme executives in the Netherlands. The global medical device company Wright Medical recently strengthened their EMEA HQ in Amsterdam where they have been since 2007. Many internationally renowned biotechs are also housed within the cluster with Kiadis Pharma, UniQure (the gene therapy pioneer) and Agendia are all headquartered within the cluster. The Amsterdam biotech cluster contributes around 19% of all life science employees within the Netherlands life science field. Many companies chose to set up in Amsterdam due to the cluster offering a number of key benefits to companies including:
- Fast approval process for clinical research in the Netherlands
- Access to large number of patients in multiple therapy areas
- Favourable tax system for companies
- Availability of venture capital
- High quality infrastructure
- High quality of life for employees
Amsterdam offers life science professionals a wealth of choices from small innovative biotechs to global pharma and medical device companies. Amsterdam has a thriving biotechnology sector that has experienced strong growth in recent years and the trend looks set to continue signalled by the recent €30m grant for the Cancer Genomics Centre in the cluster. Amsterdam has a number of unique selling points for life science companies and professionals alike. The diverse culture, unique environment and plethora of dynamic companies makes Amsterdam a very attractive prospect for life science professionals. Liftstream believes that the developing Amsterdam cluster is constantly enhancing its reputation worldwide, offering increasing opportunities for life science professionals.
For more information on the Amsterdam Biotech Cluster see these websites: