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Life Science in Austria

Advancing Austrian life science at the heart of Europe

Lenses of a microscope - Life Science in AustriaThe life science industry in Austria is fully diversified with companies large and small as well as a number of multinational companies headquartered in or with facilities here – though it is small to medium-sized companies that predominate across a whole range of disciplines.

The truly remarkable factor in the Austrian life science scene is the degree of cooperation between producers, networks of suppliers and service providers all within a short distance, meaning that the results are truly “Made in Austria!”


  1. Facts and figures
  2. Doing business in Austria
    1. Infrastructure
    2. Research and teaching
    3. Funding of research and innovation

Facts & Figures

With 917 companies active in the biotechnology, pharma or medical device business, life sciences are an important part of Austria’s economy. Together, these companies were responsible for a turnover exceeding 22.4 billion euros in 2017 – about 6.1 percent of the gross domestic product. About 55,000 people earn a living working for an Austrian life science company.

The life science industry in Austria is fully diversified with companies large and small. A number of multinational companies are headquartered in or have facilities in the country, taking advantage of Austria’s ideal geographical location at the heart of Europe. Another truly remarkable factor is the high degree of cooperation between producers, networks of suppliers and service providers all within a short distance of each other. This is why many results are genuinely ‘Made in Austria’.

Doing business in Austria

Test Tube in Science Research Lab - Life Science Business in AustriaIn recent years, the strength of the growing life science sector has been reflected in the increasing interest shown by international business in doing deals with companies in Austria. And it is not just the proliferation of corporate deals that shows Austria in a good light, the country is also proving to be an attractive location for operations and significant inward investment for a number of multinational companies.

These investments come on top of a whole series of international venture capital investments in Austrian life science companies. In 2017, funding of the Austrian biotech sector totalled around € 289.5 million from venture capitalists, private investors, grants, loans and other contributions. A further € 23.8 million was invested in Austrian medical device companies.

So why does Austria have such a great reputation for life science investment? According to a Nature publication, Austria ranks 5th regarding the proportion of the country`s research that is in the top 1% of most-cited papers. The New York-based Reputation Institute has conducted a study that shows Austria is ranked ninth out of 50 countries in terms of trust, reputation, admiration and positive image. Also, the Mercer Study 2015 ranked Vienna as the city with the highest standard of living in the world. Austria’s extensive infrastructure and its enviable location at the geographic heart of Europe are also significant reasons. Add in additional factors such as the excellence of the Austrian workforce, the renowned quality of its education system and the top-tier status of its research institutions, and it is easy to see how many companies find Austria a compelling location for doing business.


Great infrastructure is a key driver of the life science industry in Austria. Across Austria, a succession of science parks, incubators and tech transfer initiatives has ensured the growth of the indigenous industry as well as attracting a plethora of established multinational concerns. This is an ongoing process with a constant stream of new initiatives and investments being added to the existing ones.

Research and teaching

Austrian medical universities focus on state-of-the-art R&D for new therapeutic substances with approximately 20,000 people involved in academic life science research and education. The Medical University of Graz is one of three Austrian Medical Universities with a significant research impact. The university focuses on four international research areas (Cardiovascular Research, Cancer Research, Molecular Bases of Lipid Associated Diseases, Neuroscience) and a Cross-Sectional Topic “Sustainable Health Research”. The Innsbruck Medical University focuses on molecular biosciences, neurosciences, cancer research, molecular imaging and sports medicine. Innsbruck Medical University also hosts several internationally renowned projects including the “Austrian Proteomic Platform” and “Oncotyrol” which both attract scientists from all over the world. The Medical University of Vienna is strong in interdisciplinary and translational research as well as in clinical programmes covering multiple disciplines including allergology & immunology, oncology, neuroscience and vascular medicine.Besides the medical universities, there are also renowned academic bodies that significantly contribute to life sciences research in Austria and that have generated many successful life science spin-offs.

Alongside the universities, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS) is the leading organisation promoting non-university based academic research institutions in Austria. It is also worth noting the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), a PhD granting institution located in the Vienna Woods and one of the principle locations of research in the natural sciences including bioscience and the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Austria’s largest non-university research institute with a research focus on grand societal challenges.

Funding of research and innovation

Arguably, much of the recent investment success would not have been possible without a government that backs innovation and supports outstanding academic research. The resulting cutting-edge research at Austrian universities is the source of technology transfer to the many start-up companies proliferating in the Austrian life science scene. The Austrian government is committed to this burgeoning sector and is helping to foster a business environment that allows these young spin-off companies to thrive. In 2015 the estimated R&D investment will be 3,01% of GDP, an all-time high. Therefore Austria’s investment in R&D will be far higher than the average EU country’s in 2011, which was 2.02% (Innovation Union Competitiveness Report 2013). The government’s new strategy for research, development and innovation aims even higher: to make Austria an innovation leader within the European Union and to raise the share of R&D investment to 3.76% of GDP by 2020.

There is also a very supportive and attractive tax regime, an R&D cash premium of 10% and a maximum corporate income tax of 25%.

Find more facts and figures in the Life Science Report Austria 2015.