Tartu is the centre of Estonia’s medical and biotechnological landscape. The life sciences have an outstanding history at the University of Tartu. Medical sciences have been taught here since its foundation in 1632. It was at the beginning of the 19th century, however, when medicine here really started to flourish, marked by a number of groundbreaking discoveries valid till the present time. For example Nikolai Pirogov wrote his name in the annals of medical history as the founder of topographic anatomy. Rudolf Buchheim, the founder of the world’s first laboratory of experimental pharmacology, which was situated in Tartu, was also the first to classify drug ingredients according to their chemical effects and pharmacodynamic characteristics, still valid today. These long traditions and internationally recognised research in medicine, biotechnology and chemistry continue in Tartu up to the present day. Specialists for the rapidly growing sector are provided by the University of Tartu, Estonian University of Life Sciences and Tartu School of Health Care.

Nowadays the main competences in the region lie in the fields of biochemistry, genetics and heredity, neurosciences and bioinformatics. As a university city, the network of private clinics is well-developed in Tartu. Clinics collaborate closely with the research and development institutions as well as with other companies.

The city of Tartu has declared biotechnology as one of its focus areas in the city’s strategy. However, the significance of biotechnology is not only limited to the municipal level – biotechnology is defined as one of the strategic key sectors in the Estonian Research, Development and Innovation strategy “Knowledge-based Estonia”.

Life science companies and organisations - overview of the sector in Tartu (pdf)

Biotechnology - overview of the sector in Tartu (pdf)


Research institutions

  • Tartu University Hospital is the only university hospital and one of the largest providers of medical care in Estonia. The hospital is made up of 17 clinics and employing about 3500 people. In several fields (such as kidney, bone marrow and liver transplantation and congenital heart disease surgery) it is the only medical institution in Estonia with specialists at such a high level. It also acts as a pioneer in the landscape of medical treatment in Estonia, e.g. the first bone marrow transplantation in Estonia as well as in the Baltics was carried out here in 1993. As the only university hospital in Estonia, the University of Tartu Hospital plays a substantial role in the lives of undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as in the development of the country’s medical science. Almost every doctor in Estonia has been educated in Tartu and the majority of medical research and development in Estonia is carried out here as well.
  • Estonian Biocentre – The main research direction of the centre lies in the field of molecular medicine and is linked to biotechnology. The following research groups work in the centre - gene technology, oncogene, bioinformatics and evolutionary.


Leading companies

  • Icosagen Group is a contract research provider and technology developer for biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and academia. In addition, quality control services to the food and rubber industries are also part of Icosagen's activities.g
  • Asper Biotech is a genetic testing company, established in 1999 as a spin-off of a research organization called the Estonian Biocentre which employs scientists, professors and Ph.D's. Since then Asper Biotech has quickly became a leading Estonian biotechnology exporter due to our extensive services and the quality of the results.
    Company video
  • Solis BioDyne has been developing and producing life science reagents since 1995, having become one of the leading reagent suppliers in Europe:
    High standards for production and service have made Solis BioDyne a trusted trademark worldwide. Our DNA polymerases, PCR Master Mixes, qPCR Mixes and other reagents are used by a quickly growing number of customers across the globe, including top research institutes and biotech-companies. Solis BioDyne has partners in both private and state sectors, with cooperation projects ranging from OEM production to scientific research.
  • TBD Biodiscovery is an innovative manufacturer of active and high potent pharmaceutical ingredients, supported by contract services unit with top-notch expertise in synthetic organic chemistry:
    TBD-Biodiscovery is an independent Estonian company, founded in 2005 by private capital. Our business started with contract research services and grew up to small scale API/HPAPI manufacturing. TBD-Biodiscovery has certificate of  GMP compliance to manufacture non-sterile active pharmaceutical ingredients by chemical synthesis and passed many audits by customers and National Agency of Medicines. TBD-Biodiscovery develops a pipeline of products, but also provides contract services for biotech, pharma, drug development and agrochemical companies. The company has partners worldwide: European Union, Switzerland, United States, Israel and Russia.
  • Clinic Elite was opened in 2001 in a house built to be a comfortable and modern private clinic:
    Our mission is to provide high quality medical service in a private atmosphere, so the patient stays relaxed. Elite Clinic offers only proven assisted reproduction techniques for infertility treatment and shows very good results in egg donation, embryo adoption and IVF. Elite Clinic is the only private hospital and infertility clinic in Estonia with a certificate of conformity.
    Company video
  • Quintiles Estonia has been in operation since 1997, providing expert, innovative clinical services and solutions.
  • Bio-Competence Centre of Healthy Dairy Products was founded in 2004 and it focuses on applying and integrating our microbiological, biochemical, genetic, metabolomic, genomic, bioinformatic, clinical and physiological know-how to work out and implement biotechnological innovative solutions to create feed and food products and dietary supplements for general, targeted population and personal medicine challenges.
  • Competence Centre on Health Technologies is a biotechnology company focused on research and product development in personal medicine, drug development and both human and veterinary reproductive medicine:
    Our collaboration partners include both leading Estonian scientists and biotechnology companies as well as scientific, medical and R&D institutions from Europe, Asia and America. Until 2014, the research was focused on novel approaches for human infertility diagnostics and treatment, and human and animal assisted reproductive technologies.


Support organisations

  • Tartu Biotechnology Park provides physical infrastructure as well as business development and consultancy services to companies and R&D institutions in the fields of biotechnology, medicine and veterinary medicine.
  • Tartu Science Park is supporting business innovation activities in the region by networking with universities, public and private sector. Tartu Science Park is the oldest science park in Estonia as well as in the Baltics.