Building a biotech cluster in Innsbruck

Dr. Gregor Wick, CEO Angios GmbH and Member of the Board of BIOTECH AUSTRIA

ANGIOS GMBH What is the recipe for building a biotech cluster? Paramount for success is to bring together talented companies to work on promising projects and to add well-equipped facilities and experienced leadership.

In theory it is a straightforward task. One would assume that in Tyrol – home to eight recognized higher-education institutions with over 40 000 students and an established background of high-grade research in biology, chemistry, and physics – this would be an easy goal to achieve. However, the reality looks different. With most graduates opting togo to established life science hubs, such as Vienna, Munich, or Basel there is little workforce left to fuel startup biotech companies in Tyrol. Even the very few that do choose to stay in the Alps would join the large well- established “big players” in the area – Novartis, Sandoz andMED-EL.

Angios GmbH – a young biotech start-up – managed to break this trend and establish itself in Tyrol and is a new breed of companies. It all starts, as outlined at the very beginning, with the basic ingredients. The idea with which it all began the promising project- originates from the work from Professor Josef Penninger and his team, who developed a unique protocol to grow small blood vessels in a dish. It was immediately evident that besides a groundbreaking discovery in science, one could also use this technology in a clinical setting. The small blood vessels could be transplanted into a host organism, where they successfully connect to and expanded the existing vasculature. It is well established that a functional vasculature is a major bottleneck for engrafting of virtually all cellular transplants and therefore being able to supply this missing piece will hopefully increase the realization of most cell-based therapies. The success of this project will depend on the coming together of the rest of the major ingredients outlined before. Angios employs top-notch scientists from all over the world, it is guided by CEO Dr. Gregor Wick and Head of R&D Dr. Teodor Yordanov, who can draw upon the help of an internationally recognized advisory board, and has set up its laboratories in the beautiful Tyrolean capital Innsbruck. With numerous collaboration partners and the support of the province Tyrol, Angios has already founded a SpinOff, secured a globally renowned NorthAmerican Biotech company, as a development partner and first equity investor.

Building a Biotech cluster also means connecting people. Gregor represents western Austria in BIOTECH AUSTRIA to get more recognition among Tyrol’s Biotech scene. It’s a long way ahead to establish a Biotech cluster that is sustainable and dynamic to attract additional international venture capital, but the foundation has been laid for a bright future of a Biotech industry in Tyrol and BIOTECH AUSTRIA continues its intensive efforts to further establish Tyrolean biotech companies in Austria and the world.