Life Sciences Success Stories in Hungary
The Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) talks to the Budapest Business Journal about recent life sciences success stories in the country.
During the past few decades, life sciences have become one of the growth engines for economies worldwide. The aim of many countries is to move towards a knowledge-based economy, combining natural sciences with experiences in IT-related areas and digitalization. The life sciences sector is considered to be among the most technology-driven and solution orientated sectors of the industry.
One of Hungary’s most traditional economic sectors is life sciences, a field that has seen almost 100 years of innovation, highly specialized technical developments and notable exports to the global market. Academic institutions, Hungarian and global players, innovative small- and medium-sized companies strengthen the ties between science and industry to boost the outcome for the country.
The geographic location of the country, combined with highly skilled staff as well as an excellent technical and scientific background, have positioned Hungary as an ideal location to do business on the European life sciences map.
Based on the location and the business environment, Hungary can provide several advantages to life sciences companies. In Hungary, the life sciences industry is diversified and consists of two sub-segments: biotechnology and pharma on one hand, and medical devices on the other.
Pharma, medical devices and biotechnology produce an important and growing share of the Hungarian economy. Eight out of the global top ten pharma and biotech companies have manufacturing or R&D activities in Hungary. In 2017, more than 48,000 people were employed here by pharma and medical device companies.
The pharmaceutical industry has always been one of the flagships of the Hungarian national economy. Pharmaceutical companies contributed 6.8% of the total manufacturing value in 2017. The four largest manufacturing bases (Richter, Teva, Egis, and Sanofi-Aventis) performed 85-90% of the total production and export activities of the industry. Within total Hungarian industrial R&D activity, 40-45% comes from the pharmaceutical industry. In 2017, the total amount of R&D expenditures of the pharma industry reached HUF 67 billion.
The manufacturing of medical devices is another traditional sector of the Hungarian economy where there are some 150 strongly export-driven Hungarian SMEs: the export ratio exceeds 90%. These flagship companies have a special role and characteristics, e.g.: flexibility, innovation, and strong export capability.
Although biotechnology is a relatively young science, its related industries and research fields have longstanding traditions in Hungary, giving companies access to a deep knowledge-base.
The continuous development of life sciences is supported by a network of academic research expertise. Academic institutions provide the sector with well-trained people, representing a strong pillar of Hungary’s educational system. In 2017, the total number of life science students at universities amounted to more than 24,300 and 3,700 students graduated.
The Hungarian labor force is well qualified and cost effective, which increases the country’s international competitiveness. In addition to that, the large number of high quality research institutions is a testament to Hungary’s traditional strengths in science and technology. There are four main centers of R&D which are connected to universities famous for medical and health sciences: Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged and Pécs.
Hungary can offer an attractive environment for investment and R&D activities within the network of scientific centers, enabling cutting-edge technologies and continuously growing business opportunities. Highly educated professionals, a rich tradition in natural, technical and medical sciences, an advantageous geographic setting and a supportive business environment for investment have been the key drivers to make Hungary a favorable location for life science investments.