The most successful European countries for attracting life sciences investment have healthy research and development (R&D) pipelines relative to the size of their life sciences sectors, according to a KPMG report.

The report assessed the innovation and product development rate of leading European life sciences clusters including France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. These countries account for more than 70% of European life sciences financing, as well as almost 60% of European companies in the sector.


France was found to have the highest proportion of in-house R&D in Europe at 60%. The UK is particularly strong in overall R&D and boasts Europe’s largest cluster in biotechnology therapeutics and pharmaceuticals. Switzerland and Germany both fared well in terms of workforce. The Swiss boast the largest life sciences workforce relative to population and the Germans have the largest life sciences workforce in absolute numbers. The UK has the highest number of products in development followed by Germany, France and Switzerland. Germany and Switzerland display levels of innovation that are comparable with the top research nations such as the US, Japan and South Korea.

The report furthermore highlighted the benefits of clustering including access to a larger pool of skilled labour and opportunities for knowledge-sharing between different companies in the same industry. Access to new technologies, products, talent and markets is vital for maintaining competitiveness and generating growth in a highly competitive environment fuelled by fast technological changes. The vocational training systems in place in many of the countries surveyed help guarantee highly skilled workforces, while mandatory health insurance systems in most European countries, together with ageing populations, ensure strong and continuous demand.

The European Innovation Scoreboard, which measures drivers of innovation as well as ease of finance and innovation output, supports these findings by ranking Switzerland and Germany as “innovation leaders” with a performance of more than 20% above the EU-27 average, while the UK, France, Ireland and the Netherlands are “innovation followers” with an innovation performance closer to the average. In addition, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report ranks Switzerland (first), Germany (third) and the Netherlands (fifth) among the freest and most competitive countries in Europe.