Biotechnology for sustainable growth
The present crisis marks a major breaking point in the growth model and the financial fundamentals upon which mature economies are based. It has raised important issues concerning value creation, innovation and – above all – the sustainability of European national economies. Is our growth and development model nothing more than a mirage? Will we be able to achieve sustainable growth someday? How can we build strong competitive advantages, while at the same time dealing with demographic and environmental pressures?
Biotechnology represents the largest reservoir of scientific business innovation for the French economy, as well as for Europe’s economy as a whole. Our industry now has a unique opportunity to play a key role in the definition of new, post-crisis economic and social paradigms. Ultimately, biotech is a source of sustainable, responsible growth. First of all because sustainability is an inherent part of our sector’s growth models; many discoveries still lie ahead. These new discoveries are the key link in the chain of competitive advantages European economies must grab on the global level. Secondly, our companies are working towards socially responsible and environmentally friendly economic growth. Biology is “sustainable growth” by definition, as it is recyclable and not based on commodities and imports. It delivers genuine solutions for human well-being and progress in a context marked by the growth of the global population, and provides solutions for major challenges in both energy sources and use.
France Biotech is pursuing three objectives in its contributions to the development of biotechnology. The French state’s strategic investment fund (FSI) and France Biotech have just entered into an agreement aimed at creating a lead investor for breakthrough technologies, putting tens of millions of euros into three or four cutting-edge projects that can be turned into strategic technology and business advantages. This is also a possible model for a European initiative.
The second target is France’s National Research Agency (ANR), which needs to double its present budget if it is to match proportionally the scope of the NIH. We have very good researchers and we need solid, validated innovations. When a research group succeeds in identifying a new “seam”, we need to give them enough resources to fully exploit it, and recruit additional research staff by offering excellent facilities and internationally competitive salaries.
The third key objective is to maintain the “Young Innovative Company” (YIC) fiscal status, which must stay focused on true innovation. “Innovation” must remain the preserve of breakthroughs capable of generating a commercial monopoly.
Modern biotechnology is a very young field that needs time to mature. Results can take many years to achieve. At other critical junctures, France and Europe were smart enough to set early priorities in trains, aerospace and nuclear energy – so why not in the life sciences as well?