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How Countries Can Boost Their Biotech Industry

February 28, 2013
How can countries and regions boost the biotech industry within their borders? Working with several member companies, BIO developed a Global Policy Platform to serve as a roadmap for policymakers seeking to create an environment for the biotech industry to grow and prosper. These policy principles include four components: (i) research collaboration; (ii) intellectual property rights; (iii) regulatory approval; and (iv) market access.

In addition, the Global Policy Platform includes best practices from around the world:

In QATAR, fruit grows in the desert. The government’s Biotechnology Center collaborated with a private company, to convert desolate salt flats irrigated with treated sewage into an agricultural oasis. They did it by applying a special fungus that enhances the ability of plant roots to absorb water. Qatar, which imports 90% of the food it consumes, hopes this public-private partnership might bolster food production.

MALAYSIA’S biotech sector is growing at 16% annually. In 2005, the government launched its National Biotechnology Policy. It created a “Bill of Guarantees” for biotech companies, ensuring IP protections and freedom to import capital and labor. It also created the “BiotechCorp,” a convenient one-stop shop for biotech companies which provides funding and assistance with IP, immigration, regulation, and employment matters. The number of biotechnology firms is now expected to double to 400 in three years.

SINGAPORE is a biotechnology leader in part because of its ability to commercialize university and government research. Over the last decade, the National University of Singapore and the government’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research have filed nearly 2,000 patents worth hundreds of millions of dollars and sold them to industry, fueling biotechnology growth and financing further research.

After JORDAN implemented strong IP protections, including data exclusivity, the number of drug launches more than quadrupled. For the first time, multinational biopharmaceutical firms began holding clinical trials in Jordan, giving birth to the contract clinical research industry. Now, pharmaceuticals are Jordan’s highest value-added export industry and meet roughly half of total domestic demand for medicine.

According to a World Bank research paper, Indian firms increased their R&D expenditures by 20 percent on average after INDIA strengthened its protections for intellectual property by implementing the Agreement on

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Knowledge-based industries are an increasingly significant and growing sector of the Indian economy.

Last year, KENYA adopted biosafety regulations clarifying the regulatory environment for growing biotech crops. This made it significantly easier for Kenyan scientists to work with international NGOs and companies to establish biotechnology centers, train Kenyan scientists, and develop biotech crops tailored to Kenyan needs, such as drought-tolerant maize and virus-resistant cassava.

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