Biotrends 2011: Globalization of Biotech

October 28 2010

Although the U.S. still has the lead in biotech, it may not be for long…for a lot of reasons.

The biocluster concept has taken hold around the world, and nowhere was it more in evidence than at BIO 2010 in Chicago. It was impossible to miss the  banners overhead beckoning visitors to 60 pavilions: 36 regional/country pavilions and 24 U.S.  states.

We couldn't cover them all, but you'll get an idea of the great strides  being made internationally when you read our biocluster interview summaries. It's regrettable that we didn't have time for more interviews.

[By the way, our biocluster listings are far from complete. We welcome suggestions for additions or corrections (the list was begun in 2005). There is no charge for the listing.]

Another indicator of the great strides that countries are making outside the U.S. is in intellectual property protection. Every month we track gene-related patents and patent applications posted by the US Patent Office. Go to Research and click on the WORDS "Patents Issued" and "Applications (not the "PDF" symbol) to view each month's activity, sorted by country. The PDFs are categorized by type of patent.

Pick any month, any year. While you'll find that the U.S. dominates gene-related patents granted and patent application filings with the USPTO, a myriad of countries appear. Some are expected, such as Japan, Germany and the U.K. Others, less so, including Belgium, Cuba, India and Malaysia.

If you're like me, you like to see research stats backing up claims on how well countries outside the U.S. are doing in life sciences. Scientific American published an excellent study called WorldVIEW.

An excerpt from the Healthcare Economist, titled Top Countries for Biotechnology Innovation reports on the evaluation criteria. While the U.S. ranks at the top overall, (the other 4 are Singapore, Denmark, Israel and Sweden), click the list of rankings spreadsheet (it'll launch in your browser) and you'll see that Iceland outranks the U.S. in intensity, Singapore outranks the U.S. in workforce education and foundations and is joined by Israel and Finland in the number of foundations (definitions are in the Healthcare Economist's excerpt).

A "real life" demonstration of biotech activity around the world is the community of more than 92,000 scientists from 143 countries that participate monthly at Scientist Solutions. These are scientists helping each other worldwide; they also access the site for protocols from the site's database and the most comprehensive listing on the web of event information related to life science.

Am I bemoaning the rising tide of biotech activity around the word? Quite the contrary. In our introduction to "Affordable Biocluster Success" we confirm that "We're committed to the philosophy of 'a rising tide raises all boats.'"

Category: BioTrends 2011
Filed under: Bioclusters; Globalization, Continuing (education), Patents/IP