With 982 companies active in biotechnology, pharma or the medical devices business, life sciences are an important and constantly growing part of the Austrian economy. In 2020, seven percent more businesses were located in Austria compared to 2017. These companies were responsible for a turnover of 25.1 billion euros. From 2017, revenues increased substantially by 12.1%. The life science companies also employ a large chunk of the Austrian workforce. In 2020, more than 60,000 people earned a living working for an Austrian life science company, which means an increase of 8.9% compared to 2017. Find out the whole picture about the Austrian Life Science scene in this short animation.
Doing business in Austria
In recent years, the strength of the growing life science sector has been reflected in the increasing interest shown by international business in doing deals with companies in Austria. And it is not just the proliferation of corporate deals that shows Austria in a good light, the country is also proving to be an attractive location for operations and significant inward investment for a number of multinational companies.
These investments come on top of a whole series of international venture capital investments in Austrian life science companies.2020 was an outstandingly good year for Austrian dedicated biotechnology companies. They managed to secure a total of 313.2 million euros. This is an increase of 8.2% compared to 2017 (289.5 million euros). A further € 10.3 million was invested in Austrian medical device companies.
Why is Austria a great place for a life science business? The Mercer Study 2019 ranked Vienna as the city with the highest standard of living in the world for the ninth consecutive time. Austria’s extensive infrastructure and its enviable location at the geographic heart of Europe are also significant reasons. Add in additional factors such as the excellence of the Austrian workforce, the renowned quality of its education system and the top-tier status of its research institutions, and it is easy to see why many companies find Austria a compelling location for doing business.
Great infrastructure is a key driver of the life science industry in Austria. Across Austria, a succession of science parks, incubators and tech transfer initiatives has ensured the growth of the indigenous industry as well as attracting a plethora of established multinational companies. This is an ongoing process with a constant stream of new initiatives and investments being added to the existing ones.
Research and Innovation
The strong economic development of Austria’s life sciences is supported by a tight network of internationally renowned research expertise. A total of 55 institutions are completely dedicated to life science research or have significant activities in this field. Altogether, more than 24,000 life sciences related employees are working at 17 universities, 13 universities of applied sciences and 25 non-university research institutes, building the innovative foundation of the Austrian life science sector as a whole. Besides high-quality research, the academic institutions also provide the sector with well-qualified people, representing a strong pillar in Austria’s educational system. In 2020, the total number of life science students at universities and universities of applied science amounted to more than 77,000.
Austrian medical universities focus on state-of-the-art R&D for new therapeutic substances. The Medical University of Graz is one of four Austrian Medical Universities with a significant research impact. The Innsbruck Medical University focuses on molecular biosciences, neurosciences, cancer research, molecular imaging and sports medicine. Innsbruck Medical University also hosts several internationally renowned projects including “Oncotyrol” attract scientists from all over the world. The Medical University of Vienna is strong in interdisciplinary and translational research as well as in clinical programmes covering multiple disciplines.
Alongside the universities, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS) is the leading organisation promoting non-university based academic research institutions in Austria. It is also worth noting the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), a PhD granting institution located in the Vienna Woods and one of the principle locations of research in the natural sciences including bioscience and the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Austria’s largest non-university research institute with a research focus on grand societal challenges.
Arguably, much of the recent investment success would not have been possible without a government that backs innovation and supports outstanding academic research. In 2017 R&D investment was at an all-time high with 3,16% of GDP. There is also a supportive and attractive tax regime, an R&D cash premium of 14% and a maximum corporate income tax of 23% from January 1, 2024. No additional taxes apply.
Find more facts and figures in the Life Science Report Austria 2021.
For German speaking information about the most important figures on the Austrian life sciences please read the article „Life Sciences im Aufwind“ – CHEManager 1/2022.