Where the Future of Medicine is Being Created
The Business of Biotech in Berlin-Buch
Buch is a district in the northeast of Berlin, part of the borough of Pankow. It is a center for high-tech health care and research, and has been for over a century.
Buch is renowned for its hospitals and biomedical research, and it is an ideal location for life science companies and research institutions. Approximately 6500 people are employed by the health sector in Berlin-Buch, about two thirds of whom are scientists, physicians, health professionals, or entrepreneurs in the field. The more than 160 companies and organizations they work for comprise academic as well as non-university institutions, hospitals, biotech companies, and medical technology companies.
The federal government’s and Berlin’s investment of over 600 million euros in the area since 1992 has more than paid off, since by now Buch generates almost that amount in revenue every year. An even higher amount in private funding has gone into the area. Helios Clinics alone has invested 336 million euros for its hospital complex. Furthermore, several real estate companies realized that the hospital buildings of past generations were ideal to convert into attractive residential areas for current and future generations.
Campus Berlin-Buch – the Heart of the Health Location Berlin-Buch
Campus Berlin-Buch encompasses approximately 32 hectares and is home to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), the Charité University Hospital and the BiotechPark including the Startup Center with 67 companies. Approximately 3000 people from 60 nations work on the campus in the fields of biomedical research, biotechnology and medical technology. The technology platforms range from genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, ultra-high-field MRIs, advanced light microscopy, NMR spectroscopy to a screening unit for drug discovery including medicinal chemistry. The institutions on the Buch campus collaborate closely and integrate basic and patient-oriented research in a unique way. The results of this multifaceted collaboration are leading to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases – increasingly also with marketable procedures and products.
Immediately adjoining the campus to the north is the large Helios Clinic as well as the Evangelical Lung Clinic Berlin and the Immanuel Hospital Berlin, which is specialized in rheumatology. These three hospitals together have more than 60 departments for specialized health care and offer a total of approximately 1200 beds for about 220,000 patients a year. Also, the Academy of Health (Akademie der Gesundheit Berlin/Brandenburg e. V.) offers training for a variety of health professions.
Campus Berlin-Buch was designed according to Green Health Campus principles and enables work and relaxation in green surroundings. It offers a cafeteria, restaurant, barista-café, food trucks, a bakery, a day care center, a gym as part of a campus-wide health management, and smart mobility with bike sharing. The facilities are managed by Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH (CBB), which provides a “one-stop” service to the companies there, whether startups or established businesses. Together with Berlin Partner, the Berlin Senate, the district of Pankow, and other regional stakeholders, CBB is committed to attracting innovative biotech and medical technology companies and developing Berlin-Buch into an attractive Green Health City.
Here are just some of the companies that decided to settle on the campus:
- AJ Innuscreen
- Congen Biotechnology
- Eckert & Ziegler
- emp Biotech
- Experimental Pharmacology & Oncology Berlin-Buch
- Invitek Molecular
- Silence Therapeutics
Find the complete list of companies on the campus here.
As the joint medical faculty of Humboldt University and Freie Universität Berlin, the Charité is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe. One of the Charité's four locations is on the Berlin-Buch campus, where researchers collaborate closely with non-university research institutions, which include:
- Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
- Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)
- Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)
- Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of Charité and MDC
- German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK)
Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these institutions.
To The Max
The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine – a member of the Helmholtz Association and known as the MDC for short – is one of the world’s leading biomedical research centers. Here, scientists analyze how the human body works and perform research that’s paving the way for better diagnostics, therapies, and preventive treatment.
Over 1200 people work at the MDC, two thirds of them scientists and over half of these from abroad. The center, founded in 1992, was named after one of the founders of molecular biology. The 83 research groups at the MDC conduct research for instance in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, cancer, or disorders of the nervous system. Not only that, the MDC is home to 18 technology platforms developing scientific technologies. Since 2017, the MDC also has a second location in Berlin-Mitte, the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB).
The MDC has close partnerships with the Charité Berlin, the joint Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). The MDC also collaborates with other university hospitals through the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK).
Research Has an Impact!
The Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie, known as the FMP, is a member of the Leibniz Association. The FMP conducts basic research in Molecular Pharmacology with the aim of identifying novel bioactive molecules and to characterize their interactions with their biological targets in cells or organisms. These compounds are useful tools in basic biomedical research and may be further developed for the treatment, prevention, or diagnosis of disease.
To this aim, FMP researchers study key biological processes and corresponding diseases, such as cancer, aging including osteoporosis, or neurodegeneration. They also develop and apply advanced technologies ranging from screening technologies, NMR-based methods to proteomics and in vivo models. One of the high-tech platforms is a screening unit for drug discovery including medicinal chemistry.
Research at the FMP is complementary to the research at the MDC and is carried out in three scientific sections, Molecular Physiology and Cell Biology, Structural Biology, and Chemical Biology, which collaborate in multiple ways.
The institute plays a leading role in the large-scale European infrastructure project »EU-OPENSCREEN«, through which the search for active substances is coordinated across Europe. EU-OPENSCREEN has been an ESFRI Landmark since 2019. The head office is located on the Buch campus.
The Biotechpark Berlin-Buch with its Startup Center occupies approximately a quarter of the area of the campus – the yellow buildings on this searchable map. Around 800 people work here in 67 companies. The focus of the companies is on molecular biological diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, the development of new drug therapies and drug delivery systems, services for the pharmaceuticals industry, as well as biotechnology and medical technology. The latest spin-off from the MDC, T-knife, received capital totaling 66 million euros from four venture capital funds in 2020. T-knife's Series A financing round was the largest for a German company last year. The company develops T-cell therapies for the treatment of solid tumors.
Companies in the BiotechPark are part of the international life science community and have direct access to international basic research in molecular medicine and pharmacology and cutting-edge technology platforms as well as to collaboration with the local hospitals and the Charité.
A variety of specialized events promotes exchange between science, medicine and business. In addition, the BiotechPark is home to the Life Science Learning Lab “Gläsernes Labor” including an academy for continuing education and training for professionals.
The BerlinBioCube, planned to be completed in 2023, will improve the region’s economic structure still further. This incubator for biotech and medtech startups is currently under construction on the Berlin-Buch Campus and will have five floors offering a total of 8,000 square meters of lab and office space. The Cube will offer modern and light-filled laboratories and offices, communal areas and conference rooms.
In addition, there are 9 hectares of development area for the BiotechPark in the immediate vicinity of the campus.
Text: Olaf Bryan Wielk, ideenmanufaktur
Header image: © Peter Himsel/Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH