“It's Time to Invest in Biotech in Italy”
On July 5, 2004 the annual general assembly of Assobiotec - Italian Association for the Development of Biotechnology - took place in Milan, hosted by the stock exchange. Main focus of the public part was on the growing opportunities and attractiveness offered by the arising national bioindustry for private investment.
The newly appointed president of Assobiotec, Roberto Gradnik, CEO of Serono Italia, underlines the rapid growth of the Italian biotech industry in the very last years: “However, so far the sector appears to be focused only on medical applications, while the country's knowledge resources in green and white applications still lack adequate entrepreneurial exploitation. Anyway, the existing core of new biotech companies shows a very good score in terms of product pipeline, with 16 new drugs in pre-clinical or clinical development, 6 of which with orphan drug status,” he states.
Is Italy's biotech at the turning point towards a strategic development? Asso-biotec's view is optimistic. Gradnik says: “The first step must be the creation of a suitable general context, in order to catch up the delay in terms of critical mass with respect to the major international competitors. In the European context, the UK, France and Germany already showed their determination in supporting biotech's development with specific incentives. So far, Italy hasn't enjoyed a similar framework, and the existing core of dedicated companies emerged without any support, through a harsh selection of scientific excellence peaks and entrepreneurial capabilities. But in a favourable environment the potential for the creation of new dedicated companies could be by far greater”.
Assobiotec's assembly called for a number of specific measures and provisions by the national institutions which are highly needed in order to attract private investments in the biotech industry. Among these, a clear recognition of innovation as a strategic priority and a positive attitude towards the value and protection of knowledge-based “goods” (e.g. a proper implementation of the EU directive on biotech patents); furthermore, the EU-derived rules should be enforced with full respect of the notion of single EU market. Last but not least, there should be a system of fiscal incentives for high-tech enterprises in line with the leading countries, and a steady commitment into a permanent and full enforcement of the existing measures in favour of the development of industrial research and innovation.
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