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How to Become a Global Biotech Leader: Innovation and the Worldview Report

June 20, 2012
What are the BRICS of the future? Latin America, Korea, North Africa, Thailand, Turkey? Scientific American's 2012 Worldview contains a special section on Emerging Markets 2.0 and an exploration of countries that are showing promise for future development and an on-the-ground look at some of the science parks, incubators, research centers, or other hot spots of innovation that are coming into their own.

With the release of Worldview Report and Scorecard at the 2012 BIO International Convention, Fareed Zakaria of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, moderated a panel featuring Yücel Altunbasak, President of TÜBITAK, Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Greg Lucier, CEO of Life Technologies, and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman of Biocon.

The main topic of discussion was, how can countries and biotech companies work together create a framework that will produce innovation?

1. Use the right tools.

“When we think back on some of the great breakthroughs in science, sometimes we look at concepts as being the breakthrough,” Lucier explained. “Darwin’s evolutiony theory and Galileo, but actually if you look underneath it, it was probably the tool that made it happen. In Galileo’s time it was the telescope. I think now we’re just starting to take advantage of the ability to decode the human genome… and do something with it.”

2. Find the proper role of government.

“In the same way as India, I think we [South Africa] are both over-regulated and under-regulated. The critical thing is for government officials and policymakers to constantly reflect on the… regulatory environment…” Hanekom said. “In certain cases… our Medicines Control Council, for example, it takes far too long. It’s very stringent. It’s very rigorous. To find the right balance between rigour, doing the right things, and not… overdoing it.”

3. Fund projects that aren’t financially feasible, but economically feasible.

“There is this middle ground. For one company, or group of companies, something may not be feasible, like the genome projects in the beginning,” Altunbasak explained. “One company doing the genome project, what would it get? It would bankrupt… But, economically, when you look at the U.S. economy, the next 10, 20, 30 years, there is a tremendous opportunity.”

4. Expand the market.

“By using technology in a smart way you can come up with affordable, innovative drugs that can make a huge difference,” Kiran said. “When you come up with a new drug for diabetes, cancer or HIV and if you just start with a very small, affluent paying population, you’re not doing justice to actual potential of that innovation. If you can actually make the whole world… your global market… through affordable price points you have a huge market.”

Watch the creators of the Worldview Report discuss their findings at the 2012 BIO Buzz Center.