EMDT_European Medical Device Technology

European Medical Device Technology, Spring 2014

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40 | Spring 2014 European Medical Device Technology emdt.co.uk regional focus Tübingen: Where Tradition Meets High Tech T he unpretentious Swabian tinkerer is a cliché, but certainly one that contains a grain of truth. Despite the trailblazing technologies being explored and developed in the region, local engineers enthusiastically but humbly speak of their poten- tially revolutionary projects as if they were mere birdhouses and not, for instance, advanced genomics. But when the Swabians set aside the cuckoo clock—to cite another cliché—they managed to leverage this skillset to build a world-class medical device industry. Tuttlingen, for example, is home to some of the largest surgical equipment and endoscopy manufacturers, such as Aesculap and Karl Storz. In addition to well-established medtech companies like Erbe Elektromedizin GmbH, the region surrounding Tübingen is also home to a number of innovative start-ups in the area of per- sonalized and regenerative medicine. The area is a wellspring of innovation. Retina Implant, for instance, recently obtained the CE mark for its implant designed to restore the eyesight of partially blind patients. Jotec, meanwhile, produces conventional grafts and interventional implants designed to treat aortic and peripheral vascular disease. Biotech companies are also booming in the area: CeGaT is at the forefront of genom- ics while CureVac claims to be pioneering development of RNA- based medicines. An attractive attribute of the broader region between Hechin- gen and Stuttgart is the presence of approximately 120 medtech and 100 biotech companies. This high-tech hub has given rise to a number of collaborative projects. "The communication with experts from research institutions and other medical technology companies generates ideas for new products and applications— especially in bringing together various disciplines," says Martin Winter, director of marketing and sales at in vitro diagnostics company Cetics. Short distances and a sense of community in the region—Tübin- gen has only 80,000 inhabitants—facilitate cooperation between companies, clinics, universities and research facilities. "People know each other, and if you have a question, you know whom to ask," explains Walter Wrobel, CEO of Retina Implant. "We, as a con- crete example of collaboration, are a start-up and spin-off from the University Eye Clinic Tübingen, and have been working together with them for years." One of the cornerstones of the region's succeess in the life sci- ences is the excellent research landscape. Tübingen is home to one of the oldest German universities, founded in 1477, while five local Max-Planck Institutes have a life science focus and two Fraunhofer Institutes are dedicated to biotech. "Tübingen is, with its clinics and university hospitals, very strong in the medical field, both in patient care and in medical research," says Dirk Biskup, CEO of CeGaT. "The training in the univesity is also very good; many of our employees have a degree or a PhD at the University of Tübingen." Recruiting, though, is one of the major challenges for the region. "The bottleneck for many companies is still to find the highly qual- ified and specialized employees they need to grow," Winter notes. Despite being surrounded by a picturesque landscape, Tübingen, as a relatively small town, might find it difficult to compete for talent with the larger industrial centers. However, Tübingen has something that neither Frankfurt nor Hamburg has, according to Steffen Hüttner, CEO of the bioinfor- matics company HB Technologies. "The concentration of compa- nies from both the biotech and the medical technology sector is a unique feature that hardly any region can boast." Thomas Klein In the region surrounding the old university town of Tübingen, high-tech start-ups benefit from proximity to universities, clinics and established medtech companies. ES430756_EMDT1405_040.pgs 04.29.2014 03:27 UBM black yellow magenta cyan

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