Press release

Biotech SMEs and the future of the EU’s industrial agenda – a Call to Action

Recommendations for strengthening the policy environment for biotech SMEs in Europe.

27 February 2017, Brussels – On the eve of the 2017 European Industry Day, EuropaBio launches a Call to Action to EU policymakers with key recommendations for strengthening the policy environment for insuring the social and economic benefits of biotech SMEs in Europe. Policies which are crucial to maintaining a strong potential for successful biotech SMEs include increasing and simplifying access to funding schemes, ensuring access to international markets, aiding mobility of personnel, and developing incentives and legislation tailored to the needs of biotech SMEs. Maintaining Europe’s competitiveness and leadership in this key enabling technology must be a priority in the EU’s industrial agenda to 2020.

Biotechnology is essential to enhancing our quality of life and responding to society’s grand challenges. Biotechnology has also been a cornerstone of Europe’s competitiveness in terms of research and innovation as well as of industrial growth and number of jobs and companies created.

The biotechnology industry in Europe counts over 3000 companies of which 95% are SMEs or micro-companies of 50 or less employees[i].  A large proportion of the research and innovation in the biotech field is carried out by SMEs and micro-companies hence the fundamental importance of supporting not only their creation but also their development. However, the risks and costs faced by biotech SMEs are enormous.  In the biotech sector, the time lapse between discovery and access to market can be up to 15 years with relatively high risk, as well as high development and testing costs.

A viable biotech SME sector is key to ensuring the future of many of the growth industries and the products and processes they offer citizens in Europe. Leaders must prioritise public policies, which ensure a thriving SME community in Europe through:

  • Expanding, speeding up, and simplifying access to European and national funding instruments for SMEs.
  • Coordinating between funding mechanisms at the European level and at the national level.
  • Developing and supporting incentives that respond to the specific needs of SMEs (e.g. EMA SME office).
  • Ensuring that legislation is adapted to the realities and needs of SMEs, and is predictable and workable.
  • Enabling access to appropriate expertise in crucial phases of SMEs’ development.
  • Facilitating access for SMEs to international markets and mobility of personnel.