Biotech industry calls for EU-wide economic policy that rewards excellence and stimulates innovation


Brussels, 23 January 2009

Following the publication of the European Commission’s report on Science, Technology and Competitiveness key figures 2008 (1) EuropaBio, the European biotech industry association, calls for an EU wide economic policy that rewards research excellence and stimulates innovation. “Europe’s innovators need a sustainable system of support from policy makers. The report confirms that the framework conditions that SMEs and innovative businesses need are not in place in Europe. Innovative industries need a cheaper EU-wide patent, less regulation and a system that rewards Europe’s best and brightest scientists so we don’t continue our brain drain to the US” said EuropaBio’s Public Policy Director, Dirk Carrez. 
EuropaBio welcomes progress the European Commission has made to develop the Small Business Act for Europe and the work that has been undertaken to develop the European Research Area, but asks that particular attention be given to the specific needs of the innovation industries. The biotech industry also calls for less fragmentation and more coordinated funding across Europe. 
Europe still lacks a seamless intellectual property regime. The current system is fragmented across the Member States and changes depending where the patent is filed. There is a high administrative burden and filing the patent itself is expensive (2). 
Europe needs to lessen the regulatory burden on innovative industries. For example, the regulatory approval process in Europe has made European farmers less competitive globally. There has not been one new GM crop cleared for cultivation in the EU for ten long years. Around 50 GM products are awaiting approval in the EU, 19 of which are for cultivation. When European farmers are allowed access to GM crops, they tend to grow them (3). 
Innovative research is vital for the biotech industry which relies on Europe’s best and brightest scientists to develop ground breaking biotech products that will heal patients, clean up the environment and feed the world. High income taxes contribute to create the brain drain to the US. 
Small and medium sized enterprises are the lifeblood of the biotech industry. The biotech industry calls for policy makers to work with industry to create a sustainable system of support for entrepreneurs as they convert pioneering research into innovative products. “Economic value can only be created if innovative research is linked to economic policy that stimulates and supports the commercialization of innovation. We must work harder to transform the results of Europe’s scientific research to commercial reality” said Willy De Greef, EuropaBio’s Secretary General.
(1) 2008 Science, Technology and Competitiveness (ST&C) key figures report
(2) European Patent Office; The cost of a sample European patent – 2005 study
(3) Chart of EU biotech crop cultivation figures 2005-2008
EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, solely and uniquely bringing together bioscience companies from all fields of research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products. It has 79 corporate and 5 associated members, 5 BioRegions and 25 national biotechnology associations representing some 1800 small and medium sized enterprises involved in research.
For further information about EuropaBio please contact:
Willy De Greef
Tel: +32 2 735 03 13
Rebecca Weaver
Tel: +32 2 735 03 13
Direct: +32 2 739 11 84

Latest Press releases