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  • H. Degryse

Medtech and Biotech in Benelux

From the invention of the microscope in the 17th century to the pioneering oncology, the Dutch have a proven track record of pioneering medical research and development. The Netherlands is currently one of the ten most innovative countries in the world in life sciences, and its continued commitment to innovation is paying off. Incentives for research and development promote innovation, with the country investing around €2 billion a year in life sciences research and development. The highly collaborative Dutch Life Sciences & Health community includes 3,100 R&D life sciences companies, 420 biopharmaceutical companies, 65,000 employees in pharmaceuticals and a 4.7-billion-euro medtech market. Not to mention, 26 campuses, 8 University Medical Centers, and 13 universities engaged in Life Sciences research. All this potential is located within a 2.5-hour drive radius.



Investment funds have raised record amounts from mutual funds in recent years, and there are also signs of great potential for ticket financing. Investors invest in research and development and bridge it with other sectors of the economy such as health, education, finance and infrastructure. The number of investments by private equity firms and venture capital companies in the life sciences has also increased in recent years. Indeed, between 2012 and 2018 about 115 million venture funding has been raised per year.



Ubiz.io (one of our participation) has identified in Benelux more than 80 funds and FO with main focus on Biotech and Medtech. Ubiz.io has a real growing interest in this field, having regular contacts with these investors as part on its mandates to support European companies for their fundraise.



There is in Benelux a real ecosystem in constant progression (probably more than the rest of Europe). The Benelux countries are really open to innovations, but with strict requirements that are generally precursors at European level. That's maybe the reason that startups and also mature companies from all over Europe make Benelux investors a priority in their search of funds. Scaling biotech innovation would create significant benefits for the region, including approximately 100,000 additional jobs (an increase of about 75 percent), and a potential additional annual GDP impact of some €7 billion (a 45 percent increase) by 2030 including direct, indirect, and induced impact



The Netherlands remains an attractive location for biopharmaceutical innovation in Europe due to strategic partnerships between science, industry and government. Recent success stories include numerous emerging biotechs. y. Galapagos, Argenx, and UniQure are three examples of successful biotech firms with market capitalizations above €2 billion— collectively represent a market capitalization of some €19 billion at the time of writing and are helping Benelux to further develop as a hub for innovation



Increasing public and private investment in the Benelux can also help them gain a strategic advantage over international competition. We also see examples of public-private partnerships attracting investment in research and development. Leading institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Commission have the potential to support partnerships that focus on innovation.



Belgium is also a great example for the Biotech and Medtech sectors. In Belgium, there are coherent biotech support and commercialization initiatives. The universities, have created an ecosystem where valorization experts and researchers collaborate to translate scientific inventions into viable products quickly and efficiently. VIB is in essence a research institute linked to five Belgian universities, it commercializes its research vigorously. So far, its efforts have helped create 17 spin-off companies that have raised approximately €2.4 billion in investments or partnerships and made acquisitions worth €3.9 billion



There is a real hoizontal way of investments in Belgium: research and development in life sciences, health care, education and social services and health services for the public and private sectors.



All this "ecosystem" (PPP's, Public and Private Funds, Family Offices with aggressive strategies) implies that a lot of life science and healthcare companies are therefore often based in Benelux, alongside of about 30 life science research and medical center and 120 annual patent fillings and this is one of the reasons why the industry is so well positioned in this area.



From March 2019, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will operate from Amsterdam and, although much of Europe is affected by economic adversity, Belgium has proved resilient.




In this pandemic period, the investments are still consequents and we are expecting that Benelux , compare to many other countries in Europe, could be the main European area for these sectors, that are a real priority for the next years


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