Commentary: Upper Rhine Biovalley (Satis Shroff, Freiburg)

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    Sep 12, 2012
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Commentary: UPPER RHINE BIOVALLEY (Satis Shroff)

The Biovalley is located in the heart of Europe in the Upper Rhine region. It comprises a tri-national environment with Switzerland, France and Germany and offers a heavy concentration of scientific services and business dedicated to life sciences and medical technologies.

In this constellation renowned universities, public and private labs, it can boast of three Nobel Prize winners in Medicine and Chemistry. The qualified technology transfer offices are based in Conectus in Alsace, the University of Freiburg and the University of Basle. These scientific platforms provide state-of-art scientific services to the industry and academics. Screening, spectroscopy, phenotyping, clinical research are some of the services provided. Together they have a talent pool, which is capable of adapting to an international environment with its qualified manpower and excellent training centres. This makes the Bio-valley an excellent place to boost research and business in Europe for business partner from all over the world.

Biovalley happens to be the leading tri-national bio-cluster in Europe, and one of the world’s leading Life Sciences clusters. The project synergy, due to its location in the heart of Europe,  brings together regional know-how from France, Germany and Switzerland together and all are located in the Upper Rhine region.

The Bioregion Freiburg alone is attractive and dynamic with a high quality of life. Although it’s located in south-west Germany, it is close to France (just across the Rhine in Breisach) and Switzerland (one-hour-ride with the sleek, white ICE-train). With its more than 600 Life Sciences companies, among them such global firms like Novartis, Roche, Pfizer, Sonofi-Aventis, Teva, Ciba, Bio-valley offers real expertise. Four universities and the joint biotechnology study programme train the next generation of young scientists on their way to becoming highly qualified experts in the biomedical sciences.

It might be mentioned that the above-mentioned tri-national cluster has received 2.2 million euros from the EU through the Interreg-programme. There were 21 other donors, of which 12 were from the German side, and a nice sum of 3.8 million euros came together. Alas, the EU support has run out, and Bio-valley can’t bring up such a lot of money on its own. It’s interesting to note that the member firms in Germany pay a nominal sum of 150 euros per annum. The Swiss pharmaceutical giants have the necessary financial potential and are, after all, global players and are reluctant to invest in local, provincial environment represented by the Bio-valley cluster.

‘How much does the Bio-valley homepage cost?’ you might ask. A sum of 15.000 euros at least. Nevertheless the people who run the German Biovalley platform are optimistic after 15 years of Interreg support. Who’s going to pay the bills in the future for the ambitious projects of the tri-national Biovalley platform ? The three-nation members want to do it on their own by financing it from the treasuries of the regions, as well as partners from commerce. 

Biovalley is the engine of development in the Upper Rhine, runs the motto. It is hoped that it’ll take a positive trend in the distant future, because the 600 firms involved will have 50,000 jobs to lose, with 300 firms involved in Biotech and Pharmaceuticals, 100.000 tri-national students, 15.000 scientists and 40 science-related technologies.

French Connexion (Quebec-Alsace Axis): The main goal of the CQDM/Alsace BioValley joint program is to strengthen biomedical research in Quebec and Alsace by the alignment of international resources. This collaborative program also gives the opportunity for SME based in Quebec and Alsace to open up to new markets.
This program is not intended to fund research on new drugs for specific therapeutic segments. Rather, it is meant to finance the development of new technologies and processes that will have the power to facilitate the discovery or the development of new drugs.  

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