Based in Limburg an der Lahn, biovis Diagnostik MVZ GmbH researches innovative forms of laboratory diagnostics and offers customized treatment options for diseases.
The company, which is part of the Australian Sonic Healthcare Group, has built on its strong growth and invested more than EUR 20 million in a state-of-the-art headquarters complex with excellent links to the Frankfurt region. And it made a conscious choice to stay in Limburg, a multifaceted and important business location in Hessen.
biovis ’s new headquarters are ideally positioned right next door to the Limburg ICE railway station. This enables staff and customers taking the high-speed train to be at Frankfurt Airport in just under 20 minutes. In addition, Limburg’s business park has its own on-ramp to the A3 highway. “Not only do we have all the benefits of a superfast link to the Rhine-Main area, the environment also offers us excellent opportunities for growth. There was never any doubt that we would construct our new building here in Limburg and simply move within the city”, enthused Prof. Burkhard Schütz, biovis’s founder and managing director.
The highly specialized company moved into its new premises – comprising high-tech laboratories, state-of-the-art offices, and high-quality communal areas for more than 250 staff – in the spring of 2023. All in all, the site measures more than 6,000 square meters in size and the total investment was over EUR 20 million. biovis’s old building was also located in the county town on the river Lahn. “Our rapid growth meant that it had become far too small for us. We needed to find a different solution”, said Prof. Schütz.
"Our approach is to put the patient at the heart of everything we do. And since we are one of the most innovative medical diagnostic laboratories in Europe, we can adopt completely new approaches.”
1,000 different laboratory analyses plus innovative research
biovis specializes in a particular type of laboratory diagnostics. Its offers roughly 1,000 different laboratory analyses and tests focusing primarily on the areas of metabolic and metabolome diagnostics, molecular genetics, standard clinical diagnostics, microbiology, immunology, and preventive medicine. But what makes it really innovative is the degree to which it integrates its own research, and its close contacts to the physicians treating the patients. This means that biovis can do more than merely provide standard analyses: it can also offer patients highly customized treatment recommendations.
“We’re not a mainstream laboratory: in contrast to most of our competitors, we don’t perform high-volume, automated analyses of simple tests. We are more of a custom manufacturing facility in which highly-qualified experts do a lot of the work by hand. We conduct specialized tests on particularly complex cases: In many cases, these have already exhausted conventional treatment options, and physicians and other laboratories have failed to treat them successfully. And yet the people affected are still sick and need help. Our approach is to put the patient at the heart of everything we do. And since we are one of the most innovative medical diagnostic laboratories in Europe, we can adopt completely new approaches”, explained Prof. Schütz.
“Together, we represent both the State of Hessen and the region around Limburg. Our tried-and-tested teamwork allows us to offer companies customized support and to bundle the different levels of business development to add value."
Multilevel assistance from Hessen’s economic development network
Hessen’s economic development network recently paid the biovis founder a visit to discover more about this outstanding success story and pave the way for additional assistance. “Together, we represent both the State of Hessen and the region around Limburg. Our tried-and-tested teamwork allows us to offer companies customized support and to bundle the different levels of business development to add value. Companies will always find the right person to help them at HTAI and Hessen’s economic development network – be it with contacts to Hessen’s Economics Ministry, opportunities to network with the many different universities in the state, or hands-on assistance on the ground”, said Mr. Waldschmidt.
A fast track for imports at Frankfurt Airport
biovis finds this multilevel support extremely useful. The highly specialized diagnostic laboratory is not only active internationally, but also has close ties with the region. Prof. Schütz founded it in the heart of Hessen in 2004, and moved its headquarters to Limburg a few years later. There the young firm found an ideal environment for its rapid growth: situated between Cologne and Frankfurt, Limburg is one of Hessen’s key business locations. The town is known for the enormous range of companies that have found a home to, some of which are global players. The main industries represented are engineering, metalworking, and packaging technology. However, innovative enterprises in the construction, software and development sectors and in healthcare are also part of the mix.
Prof. Schütz and his team started out by focusing on the German market, but soon expanded to Austria and Switzerland, and then to the Netherlands. “Today, the samples we’re sent come from 30 different countries – but we still handle everything from Limburg”, said Alexander Bender, biovis’s Head of Administration.
From a logistics perspective, being close to Frankfurt Airport is essential: to prevent red tape holding up imports, international samples arriving there go through a fast-track procedure in a special area belonging to the Australian Sonic Healthcare Group. biovis has been a member of the Group since 2007 and the Limburg-based company leverages the synergies this offers in other areas as well. As a result, samples reach biovis’s high-tech laboratories within a very short space of time.
Highly qualified staff from the region
“For us, access to highly qualified staff is another critically important factor. A large proportion of our team is drawn from the region, because we can find the staff we need here. What is more, our top-flight international researchers in particular really like the excellent high-speed rail and road links to Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main area, since these give them a great deal of flexibility in planning their personal lives. This allows our company to partner closely with well-known research groups in Germany and abroad”, said Bender.
Involving the physicians who treat the patients is also a basic principle at biovis. The company helps them keep up with the rapid developments in diagnostics despite their busy day jobs by providing comprehensive training, a specialized hotline, and a wide range of other offerings. “There's so much going on in our areas of research: Just a few years ago we were doing pioneering microbiome research. And today we’re already working on how to measure the complex bacterial systems in the human body, and on understanding and influencing their metabolic products so as to be able to treat diseases much more precisely. This will open up whole new treatment options for us and our patients”, said Prof. Schütz with the passion of a researcher.
A focus on sustainability
In line with this, Prof. Schütz showed the Hessen economic development managers one exceptional project after another during their tour of the company’s state-of-the-art laboratories. Everywhere they looked they saw analytical equipment in use and staff engrossed in processing patient samples. Many sufferers send in multiple different sorts of samples at once, since this is the only way to ensure a comprehensive search for the causes of their complaints, many of which have evaded diagnosis for a long time. “Despite this, it goes without saying that only those analyses that are really needed in specific cases are actually performed. This is important both for cost reasons and because of our commitment to sustainability”, underscored Prof. Schütz.
This sustainable approach can also be seen in the idea for the company’s new headquarters. A large photovoltaic plant on the roof, a highly efficient air-source heat pump for generating heat and warm water, and high energy standards complete with climate-adaptive flooring for the office areas make the building a good fit for the company’s sustainable philosophy: “We aim to focus on people”.
New building project implemented with local partners
biovis arranged the funding for the new building – which also features a highly attractive design – together with a local partner: Volksbank Rhein-Lahn-Limburg financed the building in full and now leases it to the diagnostic laboratory. “We were able to implement everything we wanted and needed for our specialized day-to-day operations. Working together has been an extremely pleasant and successful experience, and has deepened our links to the region even further”, said Schütz.
For Hessen’s economic development network, this success story is a gratifying acknowledgment of its work. “biovis is a great example of a highly specialized international company that is making the most of Hessen’s many advantages as a business location to drive success. It is adding value both for itself and for the region, not to mention for the patients who benefit from the major advances in laboratory diagnostics that are being made here”, said Mr. Waldschmidt. “This is just the sort of sustainable business that we assist and support in Hessen.”