TARGET Policy Report Promoting the Biotechnology Sector
Publication Year: 2011
Dan Kaufmann, Oz Gora
Many countries invest resources in research and development. The State of Israel is in the first place in the rate of R&D investment, but cumulative experience from around the world shows that these investments are not always the result of a rational and focused process that is based on clear policy, and therefore they do not reach their full potential and are not efficient enough. The objective of this research is to create a model for managing the investment process. The Jerusalem institute for policy research took part in an international study conducted in cooperation with five other countries: France, Scotland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Galicia (Spain). The team focused on Israel’s investment in research and development in biotechnology, as well as strategic policy management processes.
Biotechnology, life sciences and biomedicine are close concepts with no clear boundaries. Its conceptualization varies depending on the authors, the context of usage or the specific purpose. Biotechnology is a complex and interdisciplinary field experiencing rapid changes in the knowledge base and its applications. Borders between life sciences and biotechnology are moving due to the new developments and the cross fertilization among the different areas and techniques. Biotechnology draws on basic biological sciences like genetic, molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology or biochemistry and makes an increasing usage of methods and techniques from other areas like information technology, nanotechnology, robotics or chemical engineering.
These interactions and diffuse borders are clear at the scientific level but particularly notable in the productive sector. There are companies whose activity can be categorized within more than one sector. In fact, the penetration of biotechnology is increasingly widespread. This not only shows its potential application to numerous fields, but also the difficulty in delimiting concepts such as biotechnology, biosciences, life sciences, medical technologies, health sciences, medical devices and biopharma.
Biotechnology and life science sectors are clearly science-based activities. However, there are bio-med companies which are not science/R&D intensive on a large extent. In addition, even among the science-extensive companies, usage of biotech knowledge or biotech techniques is not necessarily part of all these companies’ activities. According to the OECD, a biotechnology firm can be defined as a firm that is engaged in biotechnology by using at least one biotechnology technique to produce goods or services and/or to perform biotechnology R&D. Some of these firms may be large, with only a small share of total economic activity attributable to biotechnology.