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Biotechnology in Central Europe and South America - data comparison

Biotechnology in Central Europe and South America - data comparison

Publish date: 2014-01-02

Recently an article highlighting many similarities and the opportunities for cooperation between between the Brazilian and Polish biosector appeared on our portal. The following text is a kind of comparison of companies operating in Brazil and in Central Europe (CE), specifically in Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. Through the presentation of specific data, it indicates many similarities between them and shows the way of possible future cooperation.

Tags: biotechnology , Central Europe , biotechnology industry , CE biosector , biosector , Brazil

For the need of this compilation, data on companies from these three European countries was used, because they are leaders in the CE biosector, like Brazil stands out against the background of South America. Hence, the choice of these countries for the purpose of this analysis seems the most reasonable.


Number of enterprises and their activities


Poland: Before 1990, Polish companies dealing with biotechnology could be counted using only one hand. The release of the market from central planning gave the opportunity for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, which currently represent a very important pillar of the Polish economy. Currently there are more than 70 biotechnological companies, and more than 450 pharmaceutical companies in Poland. Approximately 15% of Polish biotechnology companies are included in the so-called core biotech, meaning they are dealing with basics of biotechnology. At least 50% of the activities of these companies are research and development.

Hungary: Approximately 60 core biotech companies operate in the Hungarian biotech sector. The companies are grouped in large university towns: about 60% in Budapest, 20% in Debrecen, 10% in Szeged, and the rest in Pécs, Kaposvár, Gödöllő, Veszprém and so forth. More than 90% of them are engaged in the area of medical biotechnology. The number of non-core biotech firms and medical technology ones is approximately 70 and 50, respectively. The number of enterprises, which in the broad sense of the word can be considered biotech, is approximately 150.

Czech Republic: The biotechnology organizations listed in the Czech Republic can be divided into two main categories: industrial companies and research entities. By the end of 2005 there were 63 biotechnology companies and 220 biotechnology research entities in the Czech Republic.  Most biotechnology companies are located in the Prague region (33,9 %) and in the South Moravian region (18,5 %). A similar situation exists with regard to research entities, which are mainly located in the Prague region (45,9 %) and in the South Moravian region (23,6 %). Prague, with 21 (32.3 %) biotechnology companies and 101 (45.9 %) research entities, is the biotechnology capital of the Czech Republic.

Brazil: Brazil is now a global player in the bio-economy and biotechnology markets. There are over 270 companies connected with biosector in this country, including more than 140 (> 50%) closely associated with biotechnology. They are focused on innovations, up 69.2% of them think that this kind of attitude is the key to success.


Age of enterprises


Poland: What is interesting, more than half of Polish biotechnological companies was created during last 5 years. This proves, most of all, the huge dynamics of biosector development.

Hungary: About one-third of the firms were established between 2005 and 2008 as a result of the university spin-off training wave prompted by the Innovation Act of December 2004. These new companies are largely micro-enterprises in the pre-entry phase with fewer than 10 employees.

Czech Republic: The situation in Czech Republic is very similar to this in Poland and in Hungary. Most of companies related to biosector in this country are very young. Large proportion of them are spin-off companies.

Brazil: Brazilian companies are also very young: 63% of them were created after year 2000 and 40% after 2005. This significant increase in their number indicates a high potential for development of this sector. It is worth noticing that most of Brazilian life science companies are oriented towards innovations, like the ones from beforementioned European countries.


Size of enterprises


Poland: Currently in Poland most, that is 79.5% of enterprises related to life sciences, employs up to 9 people, therefore they are microenterprises. The range of companies employing from 10 to 49 people is 9.9%, while 7.0% employs from 50 to 249 people, and only 3.6% more than 250.

Hungary: As mentioned before, most biotechnological companies in Hungary were created between 2005 and 2008. They are mostly microenterprises in very early stage of development, employing usually less than 10 people.

Czech Republic: Currently there is a rather small number of small and medium enterprises related to life sciences operating in Czech Republic – tne innovative biosector has not developed in this country to such size, like in Poland or Hungary. On the Czech market one can distinguish six dynamically operating life science companies: Lonza, Baxter, Contipro, Exbio, BioVendor and Immunotech.

Brazil: Most of brazilian biotech companies are small- or microenterprises, which base their activities on the work of well-trained specialists. In this contry 53% of enterprises employs from 1 to 10 people, 13% from 11 to 20, 21% from 21 to 50, 7% from 51 to 100 and only 6% over 100 employees. If one looks into data from earlier years, the tendency of lowering the percentage of enterprises employing from 11 to 20 can be observed, while other percentages are growing.




The structure of the Brazilian biosector resembles that present in selected countries from CE. Most companies are relatively young and attach great importance to research and development activities, thereby increasing the innovativeness of regional biobusiness. In all these countries, micro-enterprises that are just taking the impetus action and have the potential to develop in the future and provide additional jobs, are dominating.

Taking into consideration the presented data, as well as the fact that the CE biosector is actively working with its more advanced counterpart in Western Europe, and Brazil has a well-developed industrial infrastructure, cooperation of these two environments seems to have great potential.


by Tomasz Domagała



Sektor farmaceutyczny i biotechnologiczny w Polsce, Departament Informacji Gospodarczej, Polska Agencja Informacji i Inwestycji Zagranicznych S.A., Warszawa 2011

The Brazilian life science industry, Pathways for growth Biosimilars Brasil


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