Industry Group BIO Publishes Global State-of-the-Industry Report

keyboard key with the word Report on it

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) published the fifth edition of the Building the Bioeconomy report recently. The report studied 28 different indicators and provided analysis and insight into the biotech environment for 33 countries.

The goal of the report is to determine how successful biotechnology sectors can be created and sustained. While it maps policy trends and examines changes, it also evaluates how different economies achieve their goals for their biotech industries.

The report uses its Biotech Policy Performance Measure, which compares economies on more than 20 policy inputs and biotech outputs. Perhaps not surprisingly, the report found that economies that develop strong environments for all the enabling policies generally see higher levels of biotechnology output.

While Thailand was at the bottom of the list, the United States was at the top. The top 10, in order from 10th to first were: Finland, Israel, Japan, Sweden, UK, Singapore, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, and U.S.

Although the rates and amounts vary, the report notes that “most countries are moving to support education and R&D infrastructure. High investment in human capital and scientific infrastructure underpins the capacity to innovate or even take advantage of technological advances abroad.”

For example, the report measured the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) countries spent on R&D. There was nuance to that, however. Countries such as Brazil, Malaysia and New Zealand spend approximately 1.2 to 1.3 percent of GDP on R&D activities, while a country new to the list, Costa Rica, only spends 0.6 percent. But Costa Rica’s lower spending is mitigated, the report notes, “by much of the spending being directed into high-impact projects under a concerted National Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation.”

The report cautions that Costa Rica’s high investment in human capital and scientific infrastructure isn’t enough by itself to build a strong biotech industry.

They compare that to Russia, which has a very well-education population, a high number of researchers (3,131 per million people), and spending of 1.1 percent of GDP. “Yet,” the report says, “Russia—despite this significant advantage in human capital and R&D spending—largely fails to generate substantial and sustained biotech outputs. Deficiencies and uncertainty in other policy areas (including IP rights, market and commercial incentives and the regulatory environment) to some extent cancel out the advantages accrued in human capital and R&D spending.”

The report concludes that although each year the BIO International Convention includes increasing numbers of international delegates and representatives from governments around the year, and more and more countries state their ambitions for growing the biotech sector, “relatively few countries are able to have sustained levels of success and achieve the desired biotech outputs.”

The reason behind that appears to be how regulatory changes can either actively contribute to biotech growth and sustainability or hinder it. “The leading and most forward-looking biotech regulators in the world are trying to keep pace with technological developments and to cement these benefits through novel, user-friend processes and procedures. Yet, in many cases, regulatory decisions work against stated objectives and undermine innovation incentives, often as a result of inadequate governance structures and shortsighted priorities.”

The BIO report cited several steps governments might consider to mediate the problem, including coordinated regulatory policy with stakeholder consultation, keeping long-term national objectives in sight and evaluate how existing or proposed legislation would help or hurt their goals and efforts to build a competitive biotech sector.

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