For TIME's third annual Hot Company list, we talked to venture capitalists, industry experts and entrepreneurs to identify the European technology firms with the most innovative products and services and the most promising business models. We looked for those with the greatest future potential, not present hype.
Some are well established, others are still below the radar screen. Here are our picks:
Biotech the combination of life sciences, high tech and research is now the driving force behind progress in healthcare. More than 50% of new medications are being developed by biotech companies, most of which did not exist 10 to 15 years ago.
Public company based in Cambridge, England
CEO: John Brown
What it does: Researches and manufactures vaccines to prevent and treat infectious diseases.
Why it's hot: A new $428 million contract to produce 155 million doses of smallpox vaccine for the U.S. government in 2002 helped Acambis generate headlines and join the U.K.'s FTSE-250 index.
Public company based in Allschwil, Switzerland
CEO: Jean-Paul Clozel
What it does: Develops new drugs for diseases not being treated effectively, based on research into the endothelium, the single layer of cells separating blood vessels from the blood stream.
Why it's hot: Last November the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tracleer, a drug Actelion developed for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Among the first of a new class of drugs called endothelin receptor antagonists, Tracleer also received positive reviews in a study published in the March 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Private company based in London, England
CEO: Nigel Parker
What it does: Develops gene-based medicines for the treatment of cancer, vascular and circulatory system diseases.
Why it's hot: Ark, which is planning a stock flotation in a few months, has six new products in the late stages of development.
Private company based in Cambridge, England
CEO: Timothy Haines
What it does: Uses X-ray crystallography as a screening tool to discover new drugs.
Why it's hot: In late 2001, Astex revealed the 3-D structure of a key enzyme involved in drug metabolism, a discovery that is expected to lead to better understanding of the way that drugs work in the body. It has inked collaboration deals with big pharmaceutical companies such as Aventis and AstraZeneca.
Cambridge Antibody Technology* (CAT)
Public company based in Melbourn, England
CEO: Peter Chambré
What it does: Develops human monoclonal antibodies as treatment for disease.
Why it's hot: Seven human therapeutic antibodies developed by CAT are in trials, including CAT-152, which aims to prevent excessive postoperative scarring in glaucoma surgery. It has alliances with the likes of Abbott Labs and Human Genome Sciences to commercialize human monoclonal antibody-based products.