EuropaBio urges EU members to unite in biotech strategy

By Emilie Reymond

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Member states, European union

The European Union's (EU) member states must take their
responsibilities to implement the biotech policy proposed by the
European Commission (EC), said EuropaBio, the EU industry body.

EuropaBio, which represents bioindustries in Europe, was reacting to the EC's major review of its Life Science and Biotechnology Strategy, adopted in 2002 in order to regulate and address the challenges and opportunities of the biotech industry in Europe. EuropaBio said it welcomed what it qualified as an "extensive policy review" and said the refocused actions proposed by the Commission "represent an important step towards building the bio-economy." However, the industry body was sceptical about the reach of this strategy at a national level, pointing to the lack of implementation by a number of member states. It added that there was a need for the action plan to be adopted across Europe without a "biased pick and choose approach" so as to obtain a coherent policy. "Member States must take their responsibilities to implement the biotech strategy seriously otherwise the mid term review of the strategy will not generate the bio-economy,"​ said Johan Vanhemelrijck, secretary general of EuropaBio. "Meanwhile, US, China and the rest of the world will run ahead of Europe." ​ The original strategy launched by the EC almost four years ago proposed a 30-point action plan in a bid to address the challenges and opportunities of the booming biotech market. The scope of the initial report - the first of its kind at European level - was originally very broad, and its implementation is now at its mid point, said the EC in its review. "It is time to evaluate the progress achieved since 2002 and update the Strategy, to reflect new analysis of how this fast-moving sector could contribute to EU policies." According to the EC's updated report, healthcare biotechnology is the main area of activity of the biotech industry. In addition, biotech applications in human health represent around 5 per cent of the pharma sector. The review also recognised the promising applications of biotechnology which are currently in the pipeline, including advanced therapies involving tissue engineering, gene and cell-based therapies, and 'nanomedicine'. As a result, the document said supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and increasing research should be made a priority by the EU. The review proposes to refocus the 30-point action plan on five priority actions: promote research and market development for life sciences and biotech applications; foster competitiveness by facilitating knowledge transfer and innovation from the science base to industry; encourage informed societal debates on the benefits and risk of life sciences and biotechnology; ensure a sustainable contribution of modern biotechnology to agriculture; and improve the implementation of the legislation and its impact on competitiveness.

Related topics: Markets & Regulations

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