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Benelux vs Boston: Life Sciences in Benelux [Part 1]

22 September 2020

By Daisy Tazelaar

Benelux vs Boston: Life Sciences in Benelux [Part 1]

Benelux is now a bustling, booming and prosperous area for the life sciences. But then again, so is Boston. In this three-part blog series, we’re exploring, comparing and contrasting two of today’s leading life sciences hubs: Benelux vs Boston. 

Which area has the most promising future in the industry and which is best for your career? Let’s take a look, starting in Benelux. 

The Benelux life sciences industry

Benelux plays a prominent role in the life sciences industry, boasting successful names such as Galapagos, Argenx, and UniQure. Not even the global pandemic is holding it back, with Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg still pumping out research, patents, trials, investments, new companies and job opportunities in life sciences.

Why is the area a hot spot?


Benelux is home to 110 medium to large biotech companies. Plus, 29 of the 30global leaders in the pharmaceutical industry have a significant presence there, including Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. These companies aren’t just innovating themselves, but they’re also attracting top talent and other businesses to the area. 


Five of the top 100 life sciences universities are in Benelux, including Netherland's Wageningen University and Research Center, and Belgium’s KU Leuven, Ugent and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The University of Luxembourg has strong links with three world-renowned US research institutes and works alongside the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine. There are approximately 30 life science research and medical centers across Benelux, alongside many leading hubs and eco-systems - providing companies with quick access to top talent and leading knowledge. 


€115 million of venture funding and €300 million of public money is invested into Benelux biotech each year - giving businesses a lot of money to innovate with. Local governments also offer significant tax benefits for research and development, and early-stage seed funding - creating thousands of life sciences jobs across med-tech, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and food, in companies big and just starting up. 


The area hosts more biotech launches than anywhere else in Europe (other than the UK), and companies are particularly active in growth areas, such as immunotherapy and antibodies, oncology, cell and gene therapy, and the central nervous system. This attracts investors from all over the world - creating more money, more jobs and more opportunities for career progression. 

It’s why the area generates 4,000 publications, 120 patent filings and €15 billion each year, and it’s why the future looks bright too. McKinsey predicts continued growth in the area to create 100,000 additional jobs and €7 billion additional GDP by 2030. And we agree. The region is generating hugely impressive results and is calling for exceptional talent to take it further. 

Working and living Benelux

So, what does working in Benelux life sciences look like?

Well, great. Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all highly rankfor work-life balance, household income, healthcare and community. Total paid annual leave for a five-day workweek is 28, 30 and 37 days for the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg respectively. 

Happiness index scores are high and we, ourselves, love working here. And of course, the scenery, chocolates, fries and beers help too. 

Even better, there’s a wide variety in the direction you can take your life sciences career. We work with large multinational companies and tiny (but powerful) startups, across a range of different specialisms. And, the jobs keep coming, with advancements in technology and knowledge-creating more job opportunities each year. 

How Panda International can help

At Panda International, we source and place high-level professionals in ambitious and fast-growing companies across the Benelux region, covering the following sectors:

Whether you already work in Benelux or it’s the next destination for your career, we’re always by your side. We give you career advice tailored to your goals and experience, we identify the right company and position for you, and we secure you world-class opportunities in the world’s greatest hub for life sciences. 

What are you waiting for? Get in touch. 

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