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New biotechnology research center in Ljubljana

In January the National Institute of Biology (NIB) presented the Institutes’ efforts to build a new research center, called the Biotechnology Hub of NIB. The hub’s main purpose will be to aid in the transfer of knowledge from basic research in biology to practical application in industry.

The Hub will particularly focus on areas like gene and cell therapy, where the Institute already collaborates with Lek, the Slovenian subsidiary of Novartis pharmaceutical company. Other potential areas of work involves methods for detecting and cleaning biological water pollution, new bio-phytopharmaceutical solutions, ecological monitoring, IT solutions for biotech and – last but not least – applications of spider silk. The 7,000 square meter Hub will not only include new research facilities, but also working space for start-ups and spin-offs. The total value of the investment is estimated at 38 million euros, more than half of which will be spent on state-of-the-art lab equipment.

The National Institute of Biology is the largest independent public research institution for life sciences in Slovenia. It was established in 1960 and employs 120 people working in both Ljubljana and at the Marine Biological Station in Piran. The Piran facility focuses primarily on ecological research, and particularly interdisciplinary research concerning coastal seas. Other NIB research programs take place within the Department of Organisms and Ecosystems Research, Department of Genetic Toxicology and Cancer Biology, and the Department of Biotechnology and Systems Biology, focusing on topics ranging from viruses, plants and animal species, to humans and their environment. The Institute's most successful spin-off so far has been Biosistemika, a company developing software for the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry.

Local biotech know-how with a global impact

In 2017 Novartis - Sandoz successfully launched 18 medicines that were developed at the Development Center Slovenia. Among those, the medicines for the treatment of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases stand out as the most important. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted for review and confirmed the so-called “first-to-file” status for six medicine dossiers for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. Slovenia remains one of the leading Sandoz sites for introducing new medicines to global markets; more than 15 new molecules and more than 975 new medicines, respectively, were launched to 90 markets around the world.

Slovenian pharmaceutical industry profit from biotech research.

Photo: Krka