How research can be transformed into products / Heidelberg Technology Park

Judith Hillen


As part of a new series, we present here the premises and other services offered by our shareholders and cooperation partners in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, with whom we work together in a spirit of trust.

In the more than 35 years since its foundation, the Heidelberg Technology Park has become a center for high-tech innovations. For startups from the life sciences, but also from the IT sector, the different Heidelberg locations not only offer suitable office, workshop and laboratory space, but also comprehensive consulting and support services. The Heidelberg Technology Park is involved in the startup process through its involvement in Heidelberg Startup Partners, der Biotech Association Rhine-Neckar, various accelerator programmes, the KI-Lab Kurpfalz and as a shareholder of 5-HT. "We help startups to enter the market from a research base," says CEO Dr. André Domin. In an interview, he explains what the Heidelberg Technology Park has to offer startups and what success stories the Innovation Center can look back on.

Heidelberg Technology Park - CEO Dr. André Domin
Heidelberg Technology Park - CEO Dr. André Domin

What is the Heidelberg Technology Park?

The Heidelberg Technology Park was founded in 1984 and has since become an internationally renowned high-tech location for the transfer of research findings into practical applications. As a non-profit enterprise, 98% of the park is funded by the city of Heidelberg and 2% by the Rhine-Neckar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Our main focus is on biotechnology, health and pharmaceuticals, but we have also started to focus on IT solutions in the B2B sector.

We have a total of six locations, with our main site in Neuenheimer Feld on the campus of Heidelberg University and in the immediate vicinity of the University Hospital, the German Cancer Research Center and other research institutes.

Heidelberg Technology Park - Neuenheimer Feld
Heidelberg Technology Park - Neuenheimer Feld

In October 2019, we opened a new building in the Heidelberg Innovation Park, the Business Development Center that focuses on high-tech startups. We have a good 100 tenants at our various locations - from small startups such as Spoontainable with three employees to companies with 90 employees. Beyond the pure space on offer, however, we are primarily active in a large international network that has grown over many years.

Business Development Center Heidelberg
Business Development Center Heidelberg

What offers are there for startups at the Heidelberg Technology Park?

We provide startups with everything they need to start up and grow: access to financing and accelerator programs, consulting and mentoring services and suitable office and laboratory space. We focus on startups that want to enter the market from the research side. Together with other Heidelberg startup centres and research institutions, we operate the Heidelberg Startup Partners association, which offers comprehensive information, consulting and coaching services.

Work phase of the Startup Weekend Rhein-Neckar 2015
Work phase of the Startup Weekend Rhein-Neckar 2015

We also co-finance two accelerators: the Life Science Accelerator Baden-Württemberg and the Up2B Accelerator for IT start-ups. In addition, together with other partners, we manage the Gründerfonds Startup BW Pre-Seed & Pro-Tect, which finances start-ups with up to 200,000 euros. In April, we also founded the KI-Lab Kurpfalz in order to bring together companies that want to realize AI projects with suitable founders or scientists. We invite experts to the Technology Park in the context of different event formats in order to talk about topics that are relevant for the startup process in the life sciences and IT. Overall, we offer everything that start-ups need for a successful startup, from the evaluation of startup ideas to the placement of teams, experts, mentors and financiers.

Networking at the lecture series ZukunftsBar
Networking at the lecture series ZukunftsBar

We can also cover the space requirements of startups and spin-offs in the Heidelberg Technology Park. Flexible space options are available at various locations, from a coworking desk to regular rental space such as offices or workshops, clean rooms and biotechnological laboratories in S2 standard. In particular, our new building, the Business Development Center Heidelberg, is specialized in start-ups and young SMEs. Here, for example, IT or biotech startups will find suitable office space, coworking spaces, a conference center, S2 laboratories and clean room areas.

Labor Business Development Center Heidelberg
Laboratory Business Development Center Heidelberg

What are the special advantages of the Heidelberg Technology Park for startups?

In this breadth and depth, there are few locations in Germany that can offer such comprehensive services for startups and enjoy an international reputation. What sets us apart is our many years of experience in the transfer of research results into business and our mix of targeted consulting and high-quality space. The topic of networks is also very important to us: On a local level, we work intensively with Heidelberg research institutions and cooperate with numerous partners from industry. In addition, we are also involved in a number of national associations, for example BIO Deutschland e.V., the trade association of the biotechnology industry, or the Federal Association of German Innovation, Technology and Startup Centres. We are also well networked internationally, for example through the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation or the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. This enables us to address a huge ecosystem if one of our startups has a special need. In the more than 35 years since its foundation, the Heidelberg Technology Park has established itself as a brand with which we present ourselves and make our voice heard both nationally and internationally.

What success stories have there been among the Heidelberg Technology Park startups so far?

We have produced some big biotech companies, some of which are also listed on the NASDAQ, for example Affimed GmbH, which works in the field of immunoncology, or Ascendis Pharma, a company that develops innovative therapies using a technological platform. Another successful company located in the Heidelberg Technology Park, Apogenix AG, develops immunotherapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer and viral diseases. In recent years, there have also been a number of sales by companies in the Technology Park. For example, the DKFZ spin-off mtm laboratories AG, which specialises in the early detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer, was acquired by Roche. Cellzome GmbH, a biopharmaceutical spin-off of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), was sold to the pharmaceutical company GSK. We can therefore look back on a long success story.

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