U.S. biotech faces fierce international competition

Scientific American recently selected the top five countries in the world for their ability to foster biotechnology based on a few key criteria, and the results may surprise you.

The magazine focused on intellectual property and the ability to protect IP; biotech "intensity," which includes R&D spending; enterprise support, including the availability of venture capital; the expertise of the workforce available for hire and finally the overall quality of the country's biotech foundation-measuring crucial ingredients like the level of entrepreneurship in the country.

The U.S. ranked number one, with good scores across the full range of issues and a top score in the IP/venture field. But it's Singapore, rather than the U.K. or some other well known biotech country, which comes in number two, based on the government's massive support for the drug development field. Canada ranks third, followed by Sweden and Denmark, two often neglected European countries which have significant scientific expertise available.

Writing for Xconomy, Gail Maderis, the CEO of BayBio, says that it's significant that the U.S. may have dominated the IP/venture capital arenas, but we fell down the list on specific criteria like general biotech foundations. The red, white and blue even slipped into second behind Singapore on the quality of the biotech workforce. And more needs to be done to improve the education system in places like California, she adds, if the country's premier biotech hubs hope to hang on to their top global status. There are plenty of countries competing for the top spot, and education is one key strategy for getting there.

- check out the feature from Scientific American
- here's the column from Xconomy