EU offers new ideas to spur biotech sector

The European Union has put together a set of recommendations aimed at fostering the continent's biotech industry, which has traditionally lagged far behind the U.S. in raising funds for emerging companies. The EU is looking for more public-private partnerships to provide the cash needed for research, new incentives for start-ups and more support for companies trying to manage the continent's complex set of patent rules. An industry trade group, EuropaBio, said that it has its doubts about the plan, largely because member countries are being urged to take voluntary action. The EU and the U.S. each have about 2,000 biotech companies, but U.S. developers gained $3.1 billion in venture funds in 2004 compared to $1.4 billion for European companies. The relative lack of funding has hampered the growth of European drug developers, who gained 34.8 percent of European drug patents to the Americans' 41.4 percent share.

- read the report on the package from Red Herring

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