Analysis of the Vienna Bid To Host the European Medicines Agency


The Austrian capital Vienna is regarded by many as being a quiet contender in the competition to land the European Medicines Agency.  Nevertheless, it has put forward an exceptionally strong bid that will likely see it in the final contention when voting takes place on November 20th next.

Much has been written in recent weeks about the trading of votes in the competition to host one or both of the relocating European agencies.  More has been written about the EMA’s own press release on their relocation preparedness and the willingness of their staff to move with the agency. broke the story that Amsterdam was the favoured contender among EMA staff and the Politico scoop was followed up by a number of (mainly online) publications publishing what they claimed was a detailed listing of every competing cities standing with EMA staff.  (Note:  When we contacted the EMA press office for comment on the issue we were told that the agency does not comment on leaked information).  It must also be stated at this juncture that EMA staff do not have any say in the final decision regarding relocation.  This, as we have stated before, is purely a political decision.

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There has been a widely held view that Austria would seek to win the European Banking Authority over the European Medicines Agency.  German newspaper Hadlesblatt recently published a report claiming that Vienna was most like to land the EMA and that Copenhagen was most likely to land the EMA.  Such conjecture is not outside the realms of possibility.

However, we must look, briefly, at the Vienna bid.  Vienna has a thriving life sciences sector.  It has approximately 350 companies in the sector and they employ approximately 21,000 people.  While this is noticeably smaller than many of the other competing cities there are other elements of the Vienna bid that place it above competitors.  It is home to Boehringer Ingleheim, Baxter and others.  Both of the aforementioned companies and Novartis have chosen Vienna to host substantial R& D facilities.  In a business content, there have been moves recently by the Austrian government to entice new investors into teh country with attractive financial and taxation incentives.

Vienna’s life sciences cluster has combined annual revenue of €9 billion and it is a significant contributor to the Austrian economy.

The ability of Vienna to meet a number of the key criteria set out by the European Medicines Agency in advance of the bidding has also ensured that it will be well placed in the final assessment.

Overall, while the Austrian bid team has kept a lower profile than others, it is likely that Vienna be in the final contention to host the EMA post 2019.

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