What is the vision behind BioCampus Cologne?
We want to develop long-term structures for technology-driven companies to secure the wealth and economic power of Cologne. We are world champions of exports, but to secure this we have to invest in future technologies such as life sciences, engineering and chemistry. Cologne had the idea that somewhere within the city limits there should be a place for innovation and technology, and this is the BioCampus Cologne.
A special topic here is incubating start-ups as an exciting part of this innovation process. The Rhine-Ruhr is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe; all the academic and industry competence is here, it is a perfect spot to invest and to run your business. Cologne is the largest city in this area, and the BioCampus is one solution for innovation and technology in the city.
How do you see BioCampus developing or expanding in the coming years?
At the moment we have 30,000 square metres in use. It is possible to build 300,000 sq m here due to our large expansion area, so you can see the potential of what is behind that. Currently we have 28 tenant companies with more than 1000 employees, and we can increase the area tenfold – so maybe 10,000 people will work here in 10 to 20 years.
Our message and our goal is that BioCampus will be the hi-tech campus – not only for biotech but also the whole healthcare sector, ICT, big data, digital economy, biochemistry, environmental technology, nanotechnology, robotics – everything dealing with tech. We do not have all of these yet; the majority of companies here are still in life sciences, but in recent years we have established a few others. This will start to create a cluster effect, which will further help companies that come to BioCampus. Anything that deals with technology and has a high level of R&D is very welcome here.
What is your strategy for attracting industry and major international players in the biotech sphere?
We already have an excellent mix of companies. There are global players like Sanofi, Bayer, and Lonza, which bought smaller companies here and are now located here – these are absolutely success stories in their field.
Our major strategy is to build the buildings and maintain ownership of them, and rent them to customers. But we can also sell areas to major players – landmark investments to attract other companies.
This is important because you do not often have the combination of excellent location and the opportunity to expand. When you settle down here as a company you can stay your whole life. Start with one lab or room or office, and you have room to grow – we can build you a customised building. We have a solution for everything, and they are sustainable solutions.
Where do you see your biggest challenge in expanding the BioCampus?
Our visibility. We are not visible – if you ask people, they do not know what we are doing here. Now we are at the moment of this strategic concept to reinvent ourselves. We are planning to come up with a new name, a new corporate design and so on. We want to intensify our marketing strategies by using social media and going to real estate fairs to raise our visibility. In the last 10 years this was not focused on very intensively; we have to change that now. Because again, the potential is there; we just have to put it on the table.