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Revving Up for More Innovation in Germany

CSL’s R&D leaders joined local officials – and a key player from the SXSW Festival – to talk about creating a start-up ecosystem in Marburg and the Hesse region.


As CSL Behring prepares to open a $157 million USD (150 million euro) R&D facility in Marburg, Germany, the company is also supporting efforts to further establish the Hesse region as a thriving hub for scientific innovation.

At a recent event that envisioned Marburg as "the Cambridge of Germany," CSL’s R&D leaders shared the stage with local officials to show support and a spirit of collaboration.

And for extra inspiration, they looked to Hugh Forrest, a key organizer of iconic festival South by Southwest for 30+ years. The globally recognized event in Austin, Texas, spans the creative fields of music, cinema and interactivity. Prior to the pandemic, it attracted 400,000+ in-person attendees. Forrest, SXSW’s Chief Programming Officer, attended the Marburg forum virtually and gave this advice to supporters of the Hesse region:

“Creative people are more important than ever in terms of helping us build the creative solutions that can help us solve our biggest problems,” Forrest said. "Focus on strengths first. From there, growth is conceivable in many directions."

Among its strengths, the region can count a long history of scientific innovation. CSL Behring’s namesake, Emil von Behring, who in 1901 received the first Nobel Prize in medicine, lived and worked in Marburg. Today the region is home to various companies, including COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer BioNtech and global biotech CSL, whose new R&D hub will support 500 scientists. Marburg’s universities are also an asset, creating opportunities for partnerships. CSL Behring is among the world's largest manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals, bringing medicines to people who live with rare and serious diseases.

Vicky Pirzas, CSL’s Managing Director and Vice President, R&D Recombinant Product Development, at the Elevate and Accelerate event.

"We have everything at our doorstep to become a Life Science Valley," said Vicky Pirzas, CSL’s Managing Director and Vice President, R&D Recombinant Product Development, as she opened the evening. "With this forum, we want to ignite that spark, and open up the dialogue on how to build a sustainable innovation ecosystem here in Marburg."

CSL has R&D hubs in several locations around the world staffed by 1,700+ scientific employees. The largest yet under one roof will be the one under construction in Marburg, Germany, set to open in September. The centerpiece of the seven-story building will be state-of-the-art laboratories designed to support collaboration. Like the SXSW festival, the Hesse region wants to create an environment that supports maximum creativity.

“You can't 'make' creative people. But you can bring them together," said Dr. Thomas Spies, First Mayor of the city of Marburg.