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biotechnology industry

The main objective of the biotechnology industry is to invent new biologically active substances for the treatment of diseases, the pharmaceutical industry and the management of agriculture.

The United States is the world leader in biotechnology, currently employing more than 300,000 people in more than 6,000 US biotechnology companies, with an estimated market capitalization of approximately $281 billion in 2008. The biotechnology industry has more than tripled in size since 2000, with revenues increasing from $25 billion in 2000 to over $80 billion in 2008. In 2007, Amgen, Inc., the world’s largest biotechnology company, achieved total sales of $14.7 billion. The expectations are that the biotechnology market will increase to more than USD 130 billion by 2011.

Geographically, the US represents 65% of the biotech market, Europe 23%, Canada 7%, Australia 3% and the rest of the world 2%.

Today, genomics and bioinformatics development takes place within major pharmaceutical companies. There have been key collaborations with traditional IT technology companies such as IBM, Hitachi, Ltd., Samsung, SK Telecomm and Motorola. The US pharmaceutical and biotechnology research industry spent a record US$8.5 billion in 2007 on R&D of new drugs and vaccines. As of 2006, the biotech industry compared favorably with the pharmaceutical industry in terms of R&D spending per employee. Venture capital investments in life sciences companies reached USD 11.6 billion in 2007.

Ernst & Young reported that in 2006, 82 publicly traded Canadian biotech companies had $3.2 billion in revenue, representing 4.4% of global biotech revenue. Human health represents the largest segment of the Canadian biotech industry, accounting for more than half of the interest of all biotech companies, approximately 70% of all biotech revenue, and nearly 90% of all biotech R&D. Bioinformatics provides an important capability for the Canadian biotechnology industry, spanning genomics and other “omics”, tissue engineering and drug discovery technology.

Canadian bioinformatics companies include Bioinformatics Solutions, Inc., DNA LandMarks, Inc., and Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation. Montreal, Quebec, has Canada’s leading biotech cluster, followed by Toronto, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Five member states of the European Union (EU), Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, continue to lead the world in biotech innovation along with the United States and Japan. In the second half of 2007, European biotech companies reached USD 765.3 million in venture capital investments. In January and February 2008, venture capital funds invested a total of USD 145.6 million in European biotech start-ups; however, with the economic tensions in the latter part of the year, many European biotech companies may find it more difficult to raise money in early 2009.

The Berlin-based Biotechnology Industry Organization of Germany (BlO Deutschland) has more than 180 members, including companies, BioRegions and industry service providers. The organization’s goal is to support and promote a stable economy through innovation in bioscience. German biotech companies include the Biotechnology Research and Information Network (BRAIN AG), 4SC. AG, Bionas, UmbEl and Direvo, which was recently (September 2008) acquired by the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer HealthCare. In view of the flourishing German biotech sector, traditional German scientific companies such as Eppendorf, AG, Sartorius, AG and Qiagen have also gotten into the act.

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