German BioPharma awards

Protagen of Dortmund, a joint winner with the NeuroAllianz consortium. Credit: Protagen

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has announced the winners of the BioPharma strategy competition. The three top picks will share a total of €100 million ($139 million) over five years for structural projects aimed at boosting the nation's biotech and pharma industries. The Ministry launched the competition to attract “entrepreneurially minded consortia” with innovative drug development projects and financing structures designed to speed up commercialization of university research. Although Germany has the most biotech companies in the European Union, few biotech-based drugs are produced in the country. “The federal government is pursuing the goal of bringing German biotech to the forefront in Europe, not only in terms of the number of companies, but also in terms of revenue and employment figures,” says Viola Klamroth, from the Ministry. The strategy competition attracted small and large companies with partners from academia and clinical practice, and the winners were announced in October. One award goes to the Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the tech transfer agency of the Max Planck Society, for its novel sustainable financing model to enable high-risk, early-stage drug projects from German research institutions to reach clinical studies. Their proposed Drug Discovery and Development Centre (DDC) jointly conceived with London-based financial services firm Inventive Capital will allow private investors and pharma to become involved within the framework of a fund. Another award goes to the NEU2 consortium, a project bringing together a number of northern German research institutes, biotech and pharma companies. The NEU2 partnership, financed through a privately sourced fund, will use the award to develop novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for multiple sclerosis. The third award winner is the NeuroAllianz consortium, a strategic public partnership aimed at taking new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases from research to market. The 12 participating partners include public research institutes, biotechs and regulatory authorities. The BioPharma competition is part of Germany's new Pharmaceutical Initiative, which will spend over €800 ($1,000) million between 2007 and 2011 to restructure existing funding strategies as well as to create new ones. “With the three consortia selected in the BioPharma competition, there is a strong chance that Germany will be able to perform better as a location, and make better use of existing resources,” says Klamroth. “We hope to restore the earlier tradition of being the world's pharmacy.”

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Aldridge, S. German BioPharma awards. Nat Biotechnol 26, 1317 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1208-1317b

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