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THE LAZIO BIOSCIENCE DISTRICT: INNOVATION TO BEAT THE CRISIS
This power-house consists of about 300 companies from the pharmaceutical and biomedical sector, and a total of 22,000 employees. And although there has been a contraction in domestic demand in these times of economic crisis, that was more than offset by export success.
The Lazio Bioscience District is a truly dynamic entity, according to Andrea Ciampalini, CEO of Lazio Innova. It was established in 2008 and has many plus points. Andrea Ciampalini explained the situation: "The companies in the district, especially the large multinationals, are fully assimilated in major global chains. Investments in research and development are very important compared to other production fields, and Lazio provides a vital network of public and private entities (institutions, research centres and universities): unique within Italy and offering a definite competitive advantage." Development prospects for the pharmaceutical sector have focused on so-called 'red biotechnology', which uses modern biotech methods to develop products for the treatment and prevention of diseases. On the other hand, molecular diagnostics is enabling the development of less invasive medical devices and diagnostic tools. These were also among the key elements that have allowed the District to overcome the economic crisis, together with a strengthening of economic relations with foreign countries.
Andrea Ciampalini provided further details: "In particular, a series of 'contract manufacturing' agreements (involving the industrial development and contract manufacturing of the latest specialist products) have led to the repositioning of certain businesses." Companies look to the future and follow the changes on international markets, but the focus in the District is also on telemedicine, digital health services, and other areas. The CEO of Lazio Innova continued: "The upturn in some developed economies (the USA and Canada in particular) and the slowdown in some emerging nations (China, Brazil and Russia, for example), are constraining businesses to adapt their trade policies to the new scenario. On the one hand, the opportunities for increasing trade with the emerging economies continues to be an important growth factor, but with certain unknowns. On the other hand, the positive trend in some developed economies (the USA, but also some European countries) requires an effort on our part to find the right product mix, while taking into account the different applications."
"Strong international competition," he concluded, "requires important consolidation in the District. In particular, we need to support innovation in order to combat structural weaknesses: such as the matter of collaboration between private and public research, which has not been exploited to the full. There is also the question of our ability to match demand with our offer of technological transfer, still far from the best performance on the international front. In relation to the specialist areas, which are a focus of future development projects, there is ground-breaking research taking place: particularly involving (patented) biotech methods for developing new drugs. We also need to encourage the use of ICTs and applications for home care, telemedicine and digital health services, and the sort of production that unites bioscience with other fields such as the nutraceutical: areas which involve the growing demand for well-being."