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ITALIAN BIOTECH COMPANIES ARE LOOKING FOR PARTNERSHIPS IN THE US
Facilitating scientific and technological cooperation as well as partnership initiatives between Italian and US biotech companies, centres or research institutes. This is the objective under which the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) and the trade association ASSOBIOTEC has organised an official mission of Italian traders and researchers and a programme of activities in the run up to the Bio International Convention 2008 , a travelling fair that will take place in the San Diego Convention Center from 17th to 20th June 2008. The companies that will take part in the Italian delegation – organised as part of ICE’s “Sistema Italia in Fiera” initiative – will be offered a series of networking events with local universities and research centres.
In an extremely advanced sector, Italy has all the right cards to play in the world’s largest market: the US biotech industry has a tradition spanning over three decades, starting up in the 1970s on the initiative of a few pioneers in the San Francisco and Boston areas. The Unites States are undisputed leaders in the field, having the largest concentration of turnover, profits and employees in the world: they are the largest biopharmaceutical market on a global scale, with over 1,400 companies (of which 300 are publicly owned), 130,000 employees and an estimated turnover of 400 billion dollars. In 2006 – the latest data available – the biotech sector in the US obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for 36 new products compared to 33 in 2005, while earnings shot up by 14% to 55.5 billion dollars.
As of today the Italian biotech industry is not in the position to compete with the US giants, but it is progressively closing the gap: there are 222 companies with a turnover of 4,083 billion dollars obtained only from the sale (under licence agreements too) of biotech products. There are 14,000 employees, of which 4.926 are dedicated to Research and Development. Over 42 products are being clinically tested, and 35 of them are the pre-clinical phase. The total turnover amounts to 2,063 billion euros.
“This figure – claims Alessandro Sidoli, vice-president of ASSOBIOTEC – is rapidly growing to the point where the industry has gained a significant position on the international scene. Until a few years ago such a result would have been unthinkable”. One of the defining characteristics of the ‘Made in Italy’ biotech sector is the consolidation of several science parks, which are stimulating further growth by facilitating networking and offering specialised services for start ups and spin off companies. “It is not a coincidence – underlines Mr Sidoli – that a quarter of Italian companies today are based in the parks”.
Industrial biotechnologies offer other interesting perspectives. Known as ‘white biotechnologies’, they are used to produce a wide range of ‘fine chemicals’ that are used in the pharmaceutical and food industries, as well as some ‘bulk chemicals’ – such as bio-combustibles and biopolymers that have a strategic relevance for the chemical, automotive, plastic, textile and paper industries. “This sector – observes Leonardo Vingiani, Director of ASSOBIOTEC – is ever more important strategically for Italy: even though they are late starters compared to other industrialised countries, Italian industries are ever more ready to adopt the solutions offered by the most innovative research. The concrete proof of this is that in the last year the number of companies operating in this sector increased by 50% from 17 to 26.”
Browse the company profiles of the participants in the e-catalogue