How Bay Area Biotech Stacks Up With the Rest of the World

8/23/10

Recently, Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria told an audience of biotechnology executives that America’s foothold as the preeminent technology innovator may be slipping.

“Bill Gates is the Britney Spears of China,” Zakaria said. “But in the U.S., Britney Spears is still Britney Spears.”

The reverence our rivals place on science and math is measured appropriately in the second annual Scientific American Worldview: A Global Biotechnology Perspective, a thought provoking framework from which we can judge our own activities in the nation, the state and the region.

The Worldview Scorecard ranks the leading countries according to their capacities to develop biotechnology and it should come as no surprise that no other nation scored collectively higher than the U.S based on five criteria:

—Intellectual Property and protection of IP

—Intensity of biotech measures the number public companies per capita and the portion of biotechnology spending of overall R&D spending

—Enterprise Support measures the business climate, venture capital availability, and capital availability

—Education/Workforce availability

—Foundations to biotechnology include infrastructure quality and entrepreneurship climate

As a country, the broad diversity of the U.S. scored a walloping 37 in the collective measurement of IP, Intensity, Enterprise Support, Education/Workforce and Foundations. Singapore with a score of 31, Canada 29, Sweden 28 and Denmark 27 rounded out the top five countries. These scores reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each country; for example, Singapore ranks high in Enterprise Support because of its enormous government funding, but ranks low in the Intensity of biotech.

The pillars of the U.S. success according to the Worldview Scorecard are protection for IP, Foundations and Enterprise Support. In essence, our patent system places strong emphasis on protecting intellectual property (IP) which allows for a venture capital investment community (Enterprise Support) to sponsor the innovation and entrepreneurship climate (Foundations). However, we ranked sixth behind such countries as Sweden, Israel and Finland in general biotechnology Foundations and second behind Singapore in Education/Workforce.

Locally, our perception of success is more skewed … Next Page »

Gail Maderis is President & CEO of BayBio, the industry organization representing and supporting Northern California’s life science community. Follow @

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