Belgium is OECD star on biopharma innovation

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Related tags: Europe, European union

A recent study designed to assess biopharmaceutical innovation in
the member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development has found that, in terms of innovation and
biotechnology industry development, Belgium is the best performing
country.

The study, carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, measured innovation and industrial performance based on four indicators: biopharmaceutical patent applications per million capita in 1999/2000; drugs under development related to country size in 2002; venture capital invested in biotechnology per capita in 2002; and the number of biotechnology companies per million capita in 2000. The OECD found that mainland Europe could be split into three groups depending on achievement; Belgium was the clear leader and out on its own. In the second rank came the Netherlands, Germany, France and Finland - although these were following some distance behind the leader. Finally, the worst performers according to these measures included Spain, Norway and Japan. Commenting on the findings, the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) said it indicates that Belgian biotech companies are more fully-developed than the average European biotech company. In the OECD analysis, countries were also ranked on scientific performance and that of higher education systems. On these measures it concluded that Belgium and the Netherlands were the leading nations, followed by Germany, Finland, France and Spain. Japan was the worst achiever. According to the report, analysis of the combined performance of these two factors that Belgium is the highest achiever with the best results in both categories; Finland and the Netherlands are strong in sciences but do less well in innovation and industrial development; Germany fares relatively well in innovation and industrial development, but less so in science; France and Norway are not excelling in either science or industrial development; and Japan and Spain are performing poorly in both science and industrial development. The study found a correlation between high scores on these measures with well-developed markets for private equity and venture capital. The worst performers all had underdeveloped financial markets that did not support the biotech sector effectively. In addition, the top achievers have all implemented national policies aimed at improving the commercialisation of biotechnology discoveries, while the worst have introduced none for this purpose, according to the OECD. Ernst & Young's recently published 2005 report on the global biotechnology industry - Beyond Borders - found that Belgium ranked ninth in Europe, but was outside the global top 12 in terms of revenues.

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