Senior officials from Bayer scout Israel for health technologies

Officials of the German drugmaker are on a two-day visit, meeting with startups in biotech and digital health to check out investments and partnerships

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

left to right: Dr. Karl Ziegelbauer, Bayers's senior vice president of Open Innovation & Digital Technologies, Hugo Hagen, Dr. Berthold Hinzen and Dr. Joerg Moeller (Courtesy)
left to right: Dr. Karl Ziegelbauer, Bayers's senior vice president of Open Innovation & Digital Technologies, Hugo Hagen, Dr. Berthold Hinzen and Dr. Joerg Moeller (Courtesy)

A delegation of 15 senior officials of German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG is visiting Israel this week to seek out partnerships with and possible investments in local startups in the field of biotechnology and digital health.

The delegation is led by Dr. Joerg Moeller, head of Bayer’s international Pharmaceuticals Research & Development Division. He is accompanied by Dr. Berthold Hinzen, head of BD&L Therapeutic Areas, who leads the company’s commercial division and oversees development of startups and companies; Dr. Karl Ziegelbauer, senior vice president, Open Innovation & Digital Technologies; and Jeanne Kehren, head of Bayer’s Digital & Commercial Evaluation, who oversees the Digital Health R&D Division.

“We are here to listen and learn, share our experiences, offer advice from our experts, and give you more insights into how we approach business,” said Dr Moeller in a statement issued by Bayer Israel during the visit.

The delegation is meeting with representatives of 32 Israeli startups during their two-day visit to discuss various opportunities.

Bayer’s annual R&D budget is over 5 billion euros, and the delegation members are among those who decide where and what to invest in, the statement said.

This is the first time such a senior delegation from Bayer is visiting Israel — similar visits have been held only in Sweden and Boston, considered among the leaders in the field of biotech, pharma and digital innovation. The visit is indicative of the importance with which the German firm views Israel for new technologies in the field, Bayer said in the statement.

“The impressive infrastructure and the dynamic ecosystem for innovation are why Bayer strives to become partner and player in Israeli biotech and medical research,” said Hugo Hagen, Bayer Israel’s managing director and head of the pharma division, in the statement.

The German firm has already made investments in Israel: these include a 2010 investment in Evogene, a plant genomics firm; a 2013 investment in Compugen Ltd., a cancer immunotherapy firm; and a 2016 investment in drip irrigation developer Netafim. The firm set up in 2016 an agricultural innovation fund together with Trendlines.

The delegation is being hosted by Invest in Israel, an arm of the Economy Ministry that promotes foreign investments.

Ziva Eger, head of the Foreign Investments and Industrial Cooperation Authority at Invest in Israel, said that the visit is Bayer’s “acknowledgment of the local biotech industry and the technologies developed here, which it can leverage as a growth engine. This is a great opportunity for us to collaborate and to make Bayer into a major player in the Israeli biotech industry.”

In 2018, Bayer’s sales totaled 39.6 billion euros ($43.8 billion) and the firm invested 5.2 billion euros in R&D, with 3 billion euros in its pharma unit. The company employs 116,000 people globally of which some 7,000 work in R&D, the statement said.

Bayer Israel, with a main office in Hod Hasharon, employs some 150 people.

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