Choosing the right university and program to study biotechnology can seem an insurmountable task, especially given the growing number of universities that offer courses in this booming field of study. We did some digging around to find a range of biotechnology programs with different specializations in some of the best universities in Europe.
Each country in Europe has a unique culture and a distinct biotech ecosystem, and there can be some differences in regards to the university system. The list is sorted by countries to make the search easier for those that have a preference for a certain location.
Most of the programs listed are taught in English. Some of them might have certain subjects taught in a different language, but many of these universities offer language courses for international students as part of the programs.
The UK has a rich biotech ecosystem, particularly strong in medical applications, with a rapidly growing number of biotech companies. The biotech sector in the UK receives 40% of all the venture capital investments in Europe, with a total of over £1B raised last year.
The UK is also home to some of the best universities in the world. Getting into the top ones can be challenging, but luckily there are many options for biotech enthusiasts to study in this country. In addition to the ones listed below, some other good British universities with biotech-related programs include UCL and King’s College London as well as the universities of Bristol, Warwick, Glasgow, Durham, Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds.
University of Oxford
Although the university doesn’t offer programs specifically in biotechnology, it lists several programs in biochemistry and biomedical sciences. The University of Oxford has an active tech transfer office that has helped many biotech spin-out companies make a name for themselves in the industry, including Oxford Biomedica and Oxford Nanopore Technologies.
University of Cambridge
The university does not have undergraduate programs solely dedicated to biotechnology, but it does offer a Master’s in biotechnology, with a strong focus on research. The University of Cambridge also runs a number of entrepreneurship programs to support the creation of spin-out biotech companies. Among them are companies like PredictImmune and Morphogen-IX.
Imperial College London
Imperial runs undergraduate and graduate courses related to biotechnology, with multiple specializations available. For those interested in research, there are Master’s programs available with a major focus on undertaking a research project rather than on taught courses. The university has an active tech transfer office and its students take part every year in the international iGEM competition.
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in biotechnology. Among the courses available in the Master’s program offered at the university are some aimed at the business aspects of the biotech industry.
France is one of the most active countries in Europe within the biotechnology space, with a strong focus on supporting entrepreneurship and the creation of new companies. There are multiple venture capital firms, such as Seventure, Sofinnova, and Auriga Partners, fueling the industry with their investments.
For those seeking to study biotech in France, it’s important to note that unlike in many other European countries, biotechnology is considered an engineering degree in France. That might explain why the country is particularly strong in the medtech industry.
Besides several programs in biological sciences, this university in Paris offers a Master’s specialization in biotechnology that is focused on skills needed for jobs at the biotech, pharma and cosmetics industries. The program offers work placements either in France or abroad with the university’s network of companies.
This engineering school in Paris specializes solely in biotechnology, offering both undergraduate and graduate level courses. The programs at Sup’Biotech offer multiple opportunities to undertake internships and include multiple courses focusing on the business side of biotech.
This international school in Strasbourg offers both an engineering degree and a Master’s in biotechnology. The program is run in collaboration with the universities of Strasbourg, Basel, and Freiburg, and includes a work placement in either academia or the industry.
Despite being a relatively small country, Switzerland has a very strong medical biotech industry supported by the presence of many pharma companies and a big network of entrepreneurs and investors. There are multiple venture capital firms based in Switzerland, such as HBM Partners or BioMed Parners, seeking to invest in the most promising startups, which are often created based on science developed in the country’s top universities.
Something students should take into account is that the country is particularly expensive to live in, especially compares to others within Europe. However, those that land a job in Switzerland often enjoy a very high quality of life.
The university offers a Master’s in biotechnology with a strong focus on research and lab training, and the option to undertake an internship in the industry. ETH Zurich is known for having a good tech transfer office and has launched several successful biotech spin-offs, including Covagen and InSphero.
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
The EPFL offers several graduate programs in biotechnology, bioengineering, and biocomputing. The university has created several successful spin-off companies in the biotech space, including names such as Biocartis and Embion Technologies.
Germany is one of Europe’s strongest countries in terms of its biotech ecosystem. There are multiple biotech hubs in different regions of the country, with Munich and its surroundings being one of the largest. Both medical and industrial applications are particularly strong within the German biotech scene.
Many German universities are for EU students and have low tuition fees for foreign students. The universities have a high quality of academic research and they often collaborate with the biotech industry in early-stage research projects.
This university offers a multitude of undergraduate and graduate programs in biological specializations such as biomedicine, bioprocess engineering, food technology and industrial biotechnology. TU Munich has its own pilot plant dedicated to industrial biotechnology and runs support programs focusing on entrepreneurship.
The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in molecular biotechnology that is oriented to medical applications. The programs are run by the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology and although they are mostly focused on academic research, the university undertakes many industry collaborations as part of the BioRN cluster of life science.
This university offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in applied biotechnology. The courses are aimed at giving a comprehensive view of all the different applications of biotechnology, including medical, industrial and environmental applications.
Technische Universität Dresden
TU Dresden runs Master’s programs focusing on biomedical applications of biotechnology, including molecular bioengineering and regenerative medicine. The university is partnered with the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biology and Genetics, where the students can undertake research projects as part of the courses.
Austria hosts high-quality research centers and a healthy biotech industry that is growing very fast, particularly strong in medical applications. With a high quality of life, the country is known for its extensive cultural offering.
FH Campus Wien
The university offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in molecular biotechnology that take place at the Vienna Biocenter, a renowned research institution. The courses are mainly focused toward medical applications of biotechnology and include a research internship.
University of Graz
In collaboration with TU Graz, this university offers a Master’s in biotechnology that covers multiple applications, such as molecular, environmental, food and enzyme biotechnology. The program has the option of undertaking an internship.
The Netherlands has a big academic workforce in fields related to biology across the whole country. The small country hosts quite a big biotech industry that seems to be particularly strong in industrial and environmental applications.
The Netherlands is a very international place, and most of the universities and schools there offer programs in English designed for foreign students to take part in.
TU Delft has several undergraduate and graduate programs related to biotechnology, and a center dedicated to student entrepreneurship. The university’s biotechnology department has a strong focus on industrial biotechnology applications, including programs specific to environmental and sustainable technologies.
Utrecht University offers a unique Master’s program in bio-inspired innovation that combines both biology and design. The program focuses on innovation based on observations of nature, with a focus on applications within the circular economy, and includes an internship as part of the course.
Wageningen University runs a Master’s in biotechnology that gives a broad overview of different applications in medical, food and environmental biotechnology. Another Master’s program at the university focuses more closely on plant biotechnology and its different applications.
Belgium has a very active biotech scene with notable success stories among the companies founded there, such as Galapagos and Ablynx. The small country hosts several startup incubators specialized in biotech to help entrepreneurs in their journey to change the world.
Like the Netherlands, Belgium is a very international country that welcomes many foreign students each academic year.
This university offers several biotech-related programs focusing on different areas of applications, such as human health, agroscience, food technology, and bioinformatics among others. KU Leuven is known for having a good tech transfer office, and the city hosts a bio incubator that supports early-stage biotechs such as Aelin Therapeutics.
The university runs a Master’s in biochemistry and biotechnology that offers different specializations in medical, plant and microbial biotechnology, as well as bioinformatics and biochemistry. The university often collaborates with the VIB Institute, which runs a bio incubator in Ghent that supports biotech startups such as Agrosavfe.
Denmark is very strong in medical biotechnology and is the home of the well known pharma company Novo Nordisk. The country is also a pioneer in industrial biotechnology, hosting the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, Novozymes, whose technology goes back to the 1920s.
Most of the options to study biotechnology in Denmark have a major focus on business and entrepreneurship, preparing students to be successful in the industry.
University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen offers a Master’s course in biology and biotechnology with a strong focus on business that offers industry collaborations. In addition, the university offers a Master’s specialized in bioentrepreneurship that is run in collaboration with the Copenhagen Business School and the Technical University of Denmark.
Technical University of Denmark
DTU offers a Master’s program in biotechnology with a tailorable study plan that can focus on different applications, including medicine, sustainable energy, and food among others. The university center DTU Biosustain, run in partnership with Novo Nordisk, supports the creation of spin-outs and startups in the biotech space, such as CysBio.
The university runs a Bachelor’s (only in Danish) and a Master’s program in biotechnology, focusing on the optimization of biological manufacturing processes in different applications, such as food, medicine or biofuels. The Master’s includes a project undertaken at a company with the possibility of extending it into an industrial PhD.
Sweden has the highest number of biotech companies per capita in the world, most of them located in the Stockholm-Uppsala region. Consequently, many universities in the country offer biotechnology programs with a strong component of business and entrepreneurship training. Studying in Sweden is free for EU students, and the country is also known for its high quality of life.
Lund University offers a Master’s in biotechnology that gives a comprehensive view of applications in pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food, fuels and sustainability. Students can undertake research projects in either academia or the industry as part of the program.
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
This university in Stockholm runs two Master’s programs in biotechnology, one focused on medical biotechnology and the other on industrial and environmental biotechnology. They both include research projects carried out either in academia or the industry.
Known worldwide for its Nobel Prizes, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm offers a Master’s program in bioentrepreneurship that combines training in biomedicine and business administration. The course includes two work placements and a thesis project that can be undertaken at a company.
The Uppsala University offers a Master’s in applied biotechnology that besides multiple scientific subjects offers courses in project management, marketing and entrepreneurship. The university is part of the life science cluster Uppsala BIO, which supports biotech companies at all stages of development.
Norway has a strong biotech industry, mostly located around the Oslo region. The city is particularly active in oncology, supported by the presence of the Oslo Cancer Cluster. Studying in Norway is free, which fortunately also applies to international students.
University of Bergen
The university offers Master’s programs in microbiology and molecular biology. Among the multiple options for undertaking a research project as part of the program is doing so in the university’s unique department of extremophiles and biotechnology, which looks at uses of bacteria adapted to live in extreme environments.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
This university in Trondheim offers a Master’s in biotechnology that covers multiple biotechnology applications, including microbiology, chemical engineering, nanotechnology, food science and marine biochemistry. The program includes a research project to be undertaken in the university’s biotechnology department.
Finland’s biotech industry is quite small compared to other European countries, but there are several biotech companies in the country making a name for themselves. Finland is quite strong in academic research, both in medical and environmental applications of biotechnology. Its universities welcome many international students every year and many programs are offered in English.
University of Helsinki
This university runs a Master’s program that specializes in microbial biotechnology, covering a wide range of microbiology applications in health, food and sustainability. The courses offered as part of the program also include entrepreneurship and patenting subjects.
The university offers a Master’s in life science technologies that covers the multiple techniques used in different areas of biotechnology. The program includes specializations in digital health, bioelectronics, biomaterials and neuroscience technology among others.
Italy has an active biotech sector, mostly in early research stages. Most of the biotech industry is located in Milan and its surrounding, where there are also internationally renowned research centers such as the San Raffaele Hospital, a pioneer in cell and gene therapy. The country’s culture, food, and scenery are well known worldwide.
University of Milan
The university has two Master’s programs in biotechnology. One of the programs centers on industrial biotechnology, with a focus on working in the industry, while the other covers medical and veterinary applications and prepares for both academia and industry jobs.
Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
This university in Pisa offers a Master’s in agricultural sciences and plant biotechnology. The program has a focus on working within the industry setting with the goal of training professionals in the new technologies that are replacing traditional agriculture.
The Spanish biotech sector has been growing rapidly in the last decade, and today it competes at the same level of some of the other European countries with a large biotech industry. Investment has also been growing internationally, offering an increasing number of opportunities for entrepreneurs and industry workers. The universities in Spain also offer good preparation for academic positions, and the country is well known for its excellent weather and food.
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
The UAM offers a Master’s in biotechnology focusing on the development and manufacturing of biological processes and products, covering applications in health, plant, microbial, nano and industrial biotechnology. The university collaborates with multiple renowned biology research centers in Madrid.
Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona
The UAB runs a one-year Master’s in plant biology, genomics and biotechnology that covers multiple applications of plant biotechnology, including agriculture, food, energy and medical applications. The university collaborates closely with the Centre for Genomic Regulation, a renowned genomics research center.
Of course, it is not possible to include every single biotechnology study program in Europe, and this list is intended to keep growing over time. Do let us know if you have any suggestions or personal experience with any universities you think should be included here.