LISAvienna: Vienna - Austria’s biggest life science city is growing

A current study shines light on Vienna’s enormous growth in the life science sector: Compared to 2014, the numbers for the past year show a 5% increase in employment and a 23% increase in revenue. This development is due to high international demand for its products and services, strong investments by pharma-, biotech-, and medtech companies, and a dynamic startup culture.

For several years now, the life science industry has been a big player in Vienna’s science and economy sectors. There are many success stories, large and small, behind this phenomenon. Vienna is home to 554 life sciences organizations, including ambitious startups, successful large businesses, and world-class research facilities. In total, around 37,600 employees work in this sector. The sector’s significance can be seen through revenues of around €12.2 billion in 2017, over 34,700 students, more than 4,600 internationally recognized specialized publications, as well as 84 ERC grants.

Each year, 10 to 20 new startups and large-scale site expansions by big companies show how much Vienna benefits from strengthening the sector. The new Vienna Life Science Report notes a total of 51 newcomers in Vienna’s life science sector from 2014 to 2017 - the majority of these companies are focused on innovation. Taken together, products from the life science industry make up of Vienna’s most significant exports, and this sector invests more heavily in research and development than any other in the city. The report cites the 177 life sciences companies that lead research, development or manufacturing in the city – together, they invested €750 million in R&D last year.

Vienna is Austria’s life science capital

The new Vienna Life Science Report 2018/19 confirms that Vienna is Austria’s leading city for biotech, pharma, and medical device companies, as well as the related fields of research, as shown by the figures for 2017, below:

Life sciences companies



Total number of companies


481 (52%)

Employees (headcount)


22,930 (42%)


€ 22.4 billion

€ 12.2 billion (55%)

R&D investments

€ 1,245.6 million

€ 749.7 million (60%)

Life sciences research facilities



Employees (headcount)


12,620 (60%)

ERC Grants


84 (72%)



4,602 (48%)



34,743 (52%)



3,725 (48%)

Biotechnology’s growth course

Dedicated biotechnology companies – meaning those that are mainly focused on biotechnology – can enjoy continued growth in Vienna. From 50 companies in 2012, their numbers increased to over 67 in 2014 and 78 in 2017. In Vienna, medical biotechnology again leads by a clear margin. The top three themes within this powerhouse sector remain infectious diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases, due to the large medical demand and long development times. By the end of 2017, Vienna’s dedicated biotechnology companies reported a total of 77 new therapeutic substances in the pipelines. Most product candidates are in the pre-clinical development phase, while 29 substances have passed into clinical development. In 2017, Vienna also celebrated the market approval of a drug developed in the city by APEIRON Biologics.

A leading city for new eHealth solutions

The number of dedicated medical device companies rose by 50% since 2012, with 46 companies now calling Vienna home. The current numbers confirm long-standing strengths in electromechanical medical devices, special products for people with physical disabilities, as well as disposable products. However, the dynamic development of software solutions for the medical sector, including eHealth tools, is outstanding: from seven companies in 2012 (2014: 10) the number has grown to 20 companies, thus nearly tripling within five years. This development makes Vienna a leading city for the development of digital products and services in the health sector. The products and services range from new, image-based diagnostic tools to apps that accompany treatment and blockchain approaches to medical data. mySugr is just one of Vienna's incredible success stories: Roche's acquisition last year makes it the biggest deal of its kind in Europe.

360° support for life sciences

The path from a business idea to successfully implementing innovation can be rocky. Austria and the city of Vienna itself offer comprehensive support when it comes to research, services, and infrastructure. In 2017, companies and research facilities in Vienna received €110 million in national and regional funds, of which €28 million came from sources in Vienna, especially from the Vienna Business Agency and the WWTF. LISAvienna also works to grant Vienna's startups international visibility, 12 international trade fairs and conferences served as platforms for innovative products and services in the past year.

Venture Capital & Co

Public sector funding which is awarded through aws, FFG and the Vienna Business Agency help entrepreneurs launch start-ups and offer support during individual steps for further development. Companies must find the lion’s share of financing elsewhere, however. The new publication reports a deal volume of almost €606 million from 2015 to 2017, a sum which only includes investments that have been made public. These numbers include success stories like those of APEIRON Biologics, Hookipa Pharma, Marinomed, mySugr, and Themis. Financial details for numerous licensing deals and mergers & acquisitions are often kept private – and are therefore not included in this sum.

A bright future

Today’s steady stream of developments suggests that the positive trend in the life science sector will continue in the future: Proven technology platforms by emerging biotech companies are being used for new indications, eHealth startups have made great use of crowdfunding options, new collaborations are sparked, and companies are going public. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry is investing heavily in its research and manufacturing facilities, as seen with Boehringer Ingelheim and Octapharma. International attention is sure to follow – especially in the coming year when Austria will host the renowned “BIO-Europe Spring” biotech partnering conference, which is scheduled for March 25 – 27, 2019, in Vienna.

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