The field of life sciences, which encompasses biotechnology, pharma, and medical devices, has been one of the key areas of Slovenian industry for decades: the two pharmaceutical companies, Krka and Lek, are among Slovenia's largest and most successful enterprises. According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, the number of biotechnology research companies reached 75 in 2019: these companies employ 233 people and create 17 million euros of revenues. The two largest Slovenian pharma companies on their own employ almost 9,000 people and generate over 2.3 billion euros of sales. The official statistical data also puts 351 companies in the field of manufacturing medical and dental instruments or supplies. These companies employed 2,019 employees in 2019 and generated 162 million euros of revenues.
The real proof of the vitality of the Slovenian life sciences field is the bustling start-up and SME scene. Some of the SME’s operating in the field have already become global players in their respective niches. The best-known example is Bia, a producer of filter systems used in the production, purification, and analysis of large biomolecules. A few more examples: Acies Bio develops new technologies and processes for the pharmaceutical industry. Microbium develops custom-made microbiological detection protocols. Gene Planet does genome sequencing and preventive genetic testing.
The backbone of these dynamic industries is extraordinarily strong research. All the key national research institutions focus on several specific areas in life sciences. The key focus areas include protein and protease research, toxicology, cancer biology, enzymes, immune response mechanisms, and nanobiotechnology.
One of the many life sciences laboratories of Ljubljana’s Institute Josef Stefan.
Photo: Arne Hodalič