Health and life sciences

As a natural consequence of economic development, CEE’s Health and Life Sciences sector is growing rapidly. Its aging population, combined with an increasing interest in private sector health care makes the region attractive for investment, while a long tradition of pharmaceutical production has created a large number of qualified research and production workers.

Government regulation of the sector, in pharmaceuticals particularly, is still strict but is expected to ease with continued integration into EU markets. Poland remains the 7th largest pharmaceutical market in Europe, with potential for rapid growth, while the Czech Republic stands as one of CEE’s most attractive locations for R&D and manufacturing.

Lithuania is also doing particularly well, with an impressive life sciences sector, well-developed education system and a rapidly growing biotechnology industry. Private health care remains one of Latvia’s largest sectors, employing between 50,000 and 60,000 people and accounting for 40 per cent of health care expenditures, while public health care and R&D remain a central industry of Estonia.

Among Balkan countries, Slovenia holds a well-developed scientific R&D industry, as well as a successful pharmaceutical one, and ranks among the top countries of the world in R&D in fields such as computer science and nanotechnology. While Croatia’s performance seemed to improve following a 2007 decline in innovation, only to fall again in 2011 to below the EU average. Conversely, Serbia’s industry (and its pharmaceutical industry in particular) is doing extremely well. It accounts for over 3 per cent of the country’s total GDP, estimated at approximately €710 million with the prospect of significant growth in the future.