Universities, public institutes lead biotech revolution

A worldwide analysis of biotech patents shows that universities and public research institutions play the leading role in drug discovery, with the U.S. and Japan well ahead of Europe in innovation. The intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk examined patents filed between 2002 and 2006 and found that the Japan Science and Technology Agency played the lead role in filing 1,022 patent "families;" clusters of patents all linked to a single discovery. The University of California ranked second, with 543 patent families, and the U.S. government came in third, with 443 patent families--most coming from the National Institutes of Health. Their figures were presented at BIO 2007 in Boston this week.

Only a small number of private companies penetrated the firm's top-20 list. Genentech ranked fourth with 421 patent families while Millennium Pharmaceuticals came in sixth. In addition, the most high-profile patents were filed by universities, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology holding all or part of the three most frequently cited patents. Europe fared poorly in the comparison. The universities of Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Columbia all held more than twice as many patent families as Oxford, the leading European university. Somewhat surprisingly, Denmark was the leading European country for biotech innovation while the 162 patent families created by the country's Novozymes put it at the top of the list of European companies.

- read the report from The Financial Times