Dr. oec. publ. Peter Hanns Zobel: The IZB as an ideal incubator for biotech start-ups

Life sciences are among the key technologies of the future. They will provide new medicines and agents against cancer and other diseases, but they will also be the key to innovation in environmental, food and agricultural technology. As early as 1994, the Free State of Bavaria – with the Ministry of Economic Affairs leading the way – realized the potential for medical biotechnology and life sciences in and around Martinsried near Munich, and initiated the establishment of a top biotechnology location.

Meanwhile a campus has evolved in Martinsried where contacts are built and information flows more easily than anywhere else in Europe.

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Following the Großhadern university hos­­pital, the Gene Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) and the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry and Neurobiology, the chairs of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Biology as well as the pre-clinical institutes of the Medical Fa­­c­­ulty of LMU were relocated here as a logical next step. In the near future, the LMU is planning to establish the Bio­medical Center and a dementia re­­search centre. In addition to the nearby motorway junction and various bus stops, the campus is to be connected to the subway by 2013. In short, the achievements that have been realized in Martinsried in little more than ten years are enormous.
The Innovation and Start-up Center for Biotechnology (IZB) is at the heart of this outstanding campus. At the IZB, newly established enterprises find op­­timal working conditions. The laborato­ries com­­ply with BSL-1 or BSL-2 stan­­dards. Cur­­rently close to 600 people are employed by 60 firms at the IZB. Some of the innovative medicines are already on the market, others are “in the queue”. 30 drug candidates are presently being tested internationally, 70 agents are undergoing clinical trials. Besides fully equipped laboratories, the IZB offers young researchers any kind of state-of-the-art technology that is needed to work efficiently: fast data connections, modern conference rooms and proactive public relation work. The proximity to scientific institutions also facilitates the rapid ex­­change of experience.

With the motto “Where the future be­­comes reality”, the Start-up Center has made an international name for itself.

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A few years ago, the IZB extended to the north.
Within just a few years, a Center of Life and Food Sciences evolved in Freising-Weihenstephan, in direct vicinity to the Science Center of TU Munich.
The IZB in Freising-Weihenstephan was one of the “Selected Landmarks 2007” in the annual federal competition “365 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas”.
Last year’s IZB figures alone send out a clear message: In 2008, IZB tenants raised more than 80 million euros in fresh capital. Due to the high occupancy level of the existing 19,000 square metres, the planning for another office/laboratory building of 3,200 square metres, which is to be completed in mid-2010, started in 2009. As a novel feature, it will include a school for technical as­­sist­­ants. Since 1995, about 100 life-science firms have been founded under the roof of the IZB. All former IZB tenants together have created more than 1,000 permanent jobs.
The successful approach of the IZB also becomes evident if you look at the com­­panies of world renown that started out from here: MediGene, Morphosys, Metabion, Micromet or MediGenomix attest to the excellent performance of the start-up centre.

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The Business Enterprise Company IZB mbH can proudly present its service providers’ full order books.
Indeed, from a very early stage, the IZB management set standards that were copied elsewhere: For instance, already in 2002 it argued the case for the es­­tablishment of the BioKids day-care centre at IZB Martinsried.
The Freshmaker cafe on the IZB premis­­es and an attractive fountain plaza are additional elements that constantly en­­courage communication, not only among tenants, but also with people from neigh­­bouring areas.
It is important that IZB mbH employees are always easily available as contacts to support IZB entrepreneurs in case of small or grave problems. All of that can only be achieved through constant presence and the certainty of knowing that the activities are supported “from above”: Both the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and the main shareholder, the Bavarian Ministry of Finance, have been continuously and actively pro­­moting the important key technology ever since the IZB was established. Every­­one at Martinsried is sure this will not change under the new Cabinet.

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The location has been growing for 14 years and must continue to grow! The IZB Start-up Center is making every effort to further improve the profile of the vi­­brant and well-functioning network of the Mar­­tinsried campus and the IZB Weihen­stephan. The two elite universities, the outstanding research of the Max Planck Institutes and the institutes of TU and LMU, but also the 100 young biotech businesses are a guarantee of the on­­going development of the Munich Me­­tropolitan Region.

24_7_07-IZB-Team_078The author, born in 1965, studied business administration at Augsburg and Mu­­nich universities. His professional ca­­reer included stints at Textilhaus Lind­­ner, Fürst Fugger private bank, SG War­­burgs, Schitag auditing company, work as a scientific staff member at LMU and as a business consultant at Fraunhofer Management GmbH. Since 1996, Zobel has been the managing director of the Business Enterprise Company IZB mbH.