The Best Job Opportunities In Europe For Life Science PhDs

My PhD department was very international.

There were graduate students from around the world that came to study.

It is one of the amazing aspects of being a life science researcher.

International collaborations are the norm.

Funnily enough, no matter where they come from, PhDs from across the world share the same goals and the same fears.

We all love answering complex biological questions.

We love the challenge of our work.

We will spend days, weeks, months, and even years to complete a single experiment if we feel it will unlock important information.

At the same time, we worry about grants, publications, and what to do when our PhD is over.

Many of us thought about staying in America, but there were others that chose not to — either to return to their home country, or to explore something new.

But we could barely navigate the job market in our current city, let alone across the ocean.

Were there opportunities available outside of academia?

Did Europe put as much emphasis on R&D as America?

And if so, where?

It was frustrating to feel as though I was left in the dark.

Academic advisors were of no help — they barely mentored us through graduate school, let alone afterwards.

We were all left to search online on our own, checking job boards, and calling friends and family back home to ask their opinions.

When the topic of life science clusters came up at a local networking event, everyone knew about the ones in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, and San Diego.

But what about across the ocean?

Europe was teeming with life science clusters in the same way America was, we just didn’t know it.

Having your location in mind allows your job search to become more targeted and strategic.

It allows your networking with industry professionals to become more strategic too.

European R&D activities rose from 1.8 to 2.71 million

What PhDs Need To Know About The European Life Science Industry

PhDs looking to transition into industry should not discount the wealth of opportunities available beyond North America.

Over the span of five years, the number of active researchers directly employed in R&D activities across Europe rose from 1.8 million to 2.71 million.

Moreover, the European Union (EU) is dedicated to increasing its R&D strength.

The Europe 2020 strategy sets targets in relation to R&D expenditure and has called for at least 3% of the EU gross domestic product (GDP) to be spent in this direction.

To put that into perspective, GDP levels three years ago reached 2.03% or EUR 283.9 billion in the EU and 2.73% in the United States.

Simply put, Europe is one of the leading regions for life science industry in the world.

It has several well-reputed centers of education and research, which have served as sources of innovation required for development of the life science sector.

Several European countries have taken initiatives nationally to develop their biopharmaceutical and MedTech industry, as well.

This has resulted in the formation of life science specific clusters which serve as a hotbed of innovation, education, and entrepreneurial activities.

Historically, the countries dominating Europe’s life science sector are UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark, and Belgium, so it is not surprising that most of the major clusters are also located in these countries.

Top 6 Life Science Industry Clusters In Europe

Life science industry clusters are not unique to the United States.

They exist across the globe with Europe at the helm.

If you are seeking an industry transition within Europe, you should be looking to these life science clusters as sources of employment.

Target employees within these clusters for informational interviews, attend local networking events, and stay up-to-date with business news related to specific companies.

Europe also boasts many member-based networks that you can join and use to build relationships with other industry professionals.

The European Biotechnology network is a great place to start.

These clusters will allow you to strategically organize your job search by honing in on areas of interest.

Another piece of the transition puzzle.

Here are the top 6 life science industry clusters in Europe…

BioValley Life Science cluster in Europe

1. BioValley.

Outside of the two big regions in the USA of California and Boston, the European BioValley is considered the best cluster for biotechnology in the world.

It’s the first and the largest life science oriented cluster in Europe.

It was established in 1996 with the aim of replicating in European biotech what California’s Silicon Valley did for the IT sector.

“BioValley” is a combination of three clusters from three different countries; BioValley Basel of Switzerland, BioValley Baden-Wurttemberg of Germany, and France’s BioValley Alsace.

This cluster is home to a total of over 600 organizations, which consist of about 350 biopharmaceuticals and about 250 medical device/MedTech companies.

It also houses 14 technology parks such as Biopark Basel, BioTechPark Freiburg, and Technopole Mulhouse.

All organizations in BioValley collectively offer employment to over 500,000 professionals.

Besides providing employment, this cluster is also a major center for academic activities.

It has 10 academic research institutes and two European Reference Points for Medical Research (European Pharmacopoeia and European Science Foundation).

About 10,000 scientific researchers and 100,000 students are involved in education and innovation within this cluster.

Several major European and non-European life science companies have operations in BioValley.

Some global biopharma companies present here include, Johnson & Johnson, Alcon, Novartis, Pfizer, and Roche.

This cluster is also home to major medical device or MedTech organizations such as Stryker, Agilent Technologies, and GE Healthcare.

Map of European Life Science clusters

2. One Nucleus (Cambridge cluster).

The United Kingdom has one of the best biotech research infrastructures, so it is not surprising that one of the largest clusters in Europe is located here.

The One Nucleus cluster is based around Cambridge and the greater London Metropolitan area.

It was formed in 2010 through the merger of two previously existing life science networks: Eastern Region Biotechnology Initiative (ERBI) and London Biotechnology Network (LBN).

Cambridge benefits from being in one of the major centers of scientific research and innovation.

Several companies based in One Nucleus originated as spin-offs from Cambridge University.

Easy access for companies to researchers in academia, and physicians within the national health services, makes for an ideal environment for collaborations in this cluster.

R&D based biotechnology and pharmaceuticals together form 30-40% of One Nucleus’ companies, with Medical Technology companies and service providers making up the rest.

The cluster is home to over 500 life science companies that employ about 7,000 life science professionals.

Some of the major global biopharma organizations located in this region include, Amgen, Astrazeneca, Gilead Sciences, and Genzyme.

Besides the major global organizations, Cambridge is also home to some exciting university spin-offs such as Astex Pharmaceuticals, Chroma Therapeutics, and Funxional Therapeutics.

3. Munich Cluster (BioM cluster).

Germany has the highest number of life science clusters among European nations and the Munich cluster, also known as BioM cluster, is the most advanced one.

Proximity to numerous academic and research institutes is a major reason for growth of the life science industry around this region.

The Munich cluster contains three Max Planck Institutes, two university clinics, and about 60 hospitals.

It is also home to two highly reputed universities: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and Technische Universität München.

This cluster also has two incubators solely dedicated to the biotechnology sector.

The companies located here benefit from relationships with a range of venture capital firms and other private investors.

One of the major reasons for the excellent reputation of this cluster is its excellence in modern medical technologies and the latest innovations.

A major proportion of the companies and researchers in this cluster are involved in oncology and personalized medicine.

This cluster plans on investing about €100 million over five years for developing personalized medicine and targeted therapies as part of a special program known as the “m4 program”.

This cluster houses about 250 companies, out of which 118 are small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

The excellence in infrastructure and scientific innovation of this cluster has attracted many major international companies such as BMS, GSK, Gilead, Roche Diagnostics, GE Healthcare, and Sandoz.

4. Genopole.

In the late 90s, France initiated the development of technology clusters and the Medicien Regions Paris is one of the results of that.

The most prominent “technology park” dedicated to life science located inside this Medicien Paris Region is GenoPole.

GenoPole, located about 30 miles south of Paris, was established in 1998. Originally, it was founded to concentrate mostly on genomics and genetics.

Genopole is fortunate to be in an ecosystem of innovation.

It is close to Paris Saclay, and universities in its proximity include Université d’Evry Val d’Essonne and the Hôpital sud-francilien (CHSF).

Synthetic biology, gene therapy, bioinformatics, plant biotechnology, and genomics are the major areas of focus for Genopole.

Its excellent infrastructure offers incubator services, good manufacturing practices (GMP) service centers, as well as 21 shared-access technology platforms.

Genopole also facilitates financial support to its resident companies, resulting in €403 million in equity funding.

Currently, Genopole has about 80 biotech companies, 20 academic research laboratories, and it employs over 2,200 professionals.

It also has a clinical and translational research facility located near the Center Hospitalier Sud-Lilien.

Some of the noteworthy companies present in this cluster include Genethon, LTKfarma, Vaxon Biotech, and InGen.

Medicon Valley biotech Life Science cluster

5. Medicon Valley.

This cluster spans two Scandinavian nations.

The Medicon Valley cluster is comprised of organizations in the greater Copenhagen region of Denmark and the Skane region of Southern Sweden, which are linked by the Øresund bridge.

This region boasts one of the best life science research ecosystems in Europe, as both nations have strong life science research bases.

This cluster has access to innovation from 15 universities and 28 research hospitals, which include University of Copenhagen, Lund University, and Malmo University.

The research infrastructure also offers a number of science parks and innovation incubators.

The Medicon Valley cluster has 40,000 skilled professionals dedicated to life science, 14,000 scientific researchers, and about 6,000 students involved in various scientific fields, which provide an excellent talent pool.

The Valley’s organizations focus heavily on innovation and key areas of interest are: oncology, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, neuroscience, and stem cell research.

Currently, it is believed that Medicon Valley has the most promising pipelines in development among biotech clusters in the world.

It is home to over 350 biotechnology and MedTech organizations, with Lundbeck and Novo Nordisk being the two most prominent local companies.

Multiple international biotechnology and pharma that have set up facilities in Medicon Valley include Astrazeneca, Genentech, Eli Lilly, Biogen, and Genzyme.

6. FlandersBio.

The FlandersBio cluster resulted from the Belgian government’s initiative to patent and commercialize innovations from their academic institutes.

It was started in 2004 through the collaborative efforts of three organizations: Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), FlandersBio, and Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT).

Located at a major economic center of the EU and having a multicultural community makes the Flanders region ideal for international business.

This hub also benefits from having one of the most pro-business environments, tax incentives, and supportive intellectual property laws in Europe.

The FlandersBio cluster has a strong focus in innovation and has one of the highest concentration of patents, with 33 of its biotechnology companies owning 941 patents.

This cluster is home to over 140 life science organizations. It also accommodates five universities, 14 incubators, and three research parks, which provide employment to 13,000 professionals.

FlandersBio’s strongest area is “Biobased economy”.

Research Institutes located here are internationally renowned for pioneering innovations in sustainable agriculture, biofuels, and GMO crops.

Medical Biotechnology is another major area of interest.

Some of the homegrown successful companies include Ablynx, Tigenix, and ThromboGenics.

Major foreign biotech organizations such as Amgen, Bayer, Genzyme, and Novartis also have substantial footprints inside this cluster.

With the continued success of these life science clusters and a growing interest in the biopharma industry, more European nations are striving to emulate them. Government initiatives across the continent are resulting in more hubs dedicated to life sciences. Besides the major clusters mentioned previously, other European regions with well-established life science industry are Amsterdam, Zurich, Lyon, Berlin, and Edinburgh. The bioscience sector in Europe looks promising and we can expect more growth and job opportunities in the future. If you are a PhD planning to work in industry, it would be worthwhile to identify and target these clusters, as they offer multiple opportunities in one location.

To learn more about the best job opportunities in Europe for Life Science PhDs, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Arunodoy Sur, PhD
Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Arunodoy is a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology and has training in intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and venture capitalism. He also has experience with global biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, including clinical trial consulting. Arunodoy is passionate about the translation of academic research to the real world and commercialization of scientific innovation so that it can help solve problems and benefit people. He possesses in-depth understanding of both technological and commercial aspects associated with the life science industry.

Similar Articles

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 31st 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 31st 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

If You Have A Rare PhD Background, You Must Know These 8 Facts To Get Hired Into R&D

If You Have A Rare PhD Background, You Must Know These 8 Facts To Get Hired Into R&D

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Most PhDs who join the Cheeky Scientist Association want to become R&D professionals or industry research scientists. There is nothing wrong about that.  After all, the best science and the best research is done in industry. So it’s only normal that PhDs who want to stay close to science are at least considering this career path.  However, after working with PhDs for years, I realized that most PhDs want to become research scientists because they think that they will get to do the same thing they do in academia, so they are more valuable in these positions. If this is…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 24th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 24th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

15 Project Management Concepts That Every PhD Should Understand

15 Project Management Concepts That Every PhD Should Understand

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

PhDs know how to get a project done.  They know how to juggle different projects, how to prioritize between different experiments, and how to achieve results while managing low budgets. This leads them to believe that they know everything there is to know about project management. But here’s the thing, project management in academia is very different from project management in industry. Not understanding this difference leads PhDs to stay unemployed because they don’t know how to react to project management-related questions during the interview process. If you are thinking that this doesn’t apply to you because you are not…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 17th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 17th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

How To Use LinkedIn To Find The Best Data Scientist Jobs

How To Use LinkedIn To Find The Best Data Scientist Jobs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

For the past four years, data scientist has been ranked among the best jobs in America by Glassdoor and it’s easy to see why: Data scientists command a median salary of $123,263 and they have one of the highest job satisfactions in the market.  That’s not a bad position to find yourself in! Right now, we’re in the age of big data. The problem is, there aren’t enough qualified data scientists to satisfy the need for their skillset. If you have a PhD in data analytics or data science, finding a job shouldn’t be hard. However, you don’t want to…

7 Resume Tips That Are Giving PhDs An Unfair Advantage Over Other Job Candidates

7 Resume Tips That Are Giving PhDs An Unfair Advantage Over Other Job Candidates

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Resume is your marketing document. PhDs often think that their academic credentials and technical skills should be enough to get them hired in a top industry job.  They underestimate the importance of learning industry etiquette and focus on uploading resumes filled with scientific jargon and technical skills to every job posting that comes their way. As a consequence, they end up in a vicious circle of uploading resumes and never hearing back from employers. Most of these PhDs don’t even know that their resumes are getting rejected by Applicant Tracking System Software before they even reach the hands of a…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 10th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, July 10th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

The

The "From Scratch" Method Of Setting Up A Successful Job Search Strategy (5 Steps You Can’t Miss)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I am working on my job search strategy.  Just last week, I sent over 10 CVs through job portals. I hear this from PhDs all the time. They don’t know what a PhD-level job search actually looks like, so they send a bunch of resumes or LinkedIn requests and expect to see results. The thing is, that strategy will take them nowhere.  It isn’t even a strategy. Recently one of our members noticed why uploading resumes online, not only is not a strategy, but is a waste of time.  “I have been following CSA strategies a lot, but today I…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.