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Growing Pains in Irish Biotechnology

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Gillespie, Simon and Henry, Colette (2006) Growing Pains in Irish Biotechnology. In: The 14th Annual High Technology Small Firms Conference : May 11-13, 2006 + May 10, 2006 Doctoral Workshop, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands., 10 May 2006 - 13 May 2006, Enschede, The Netherlands .

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Event: The 14th Annual High Technology Small Firms Conference : May 11-13, 2006 + May 10, 2006 Doctoral Workshop, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands., 10 May 2006 - 13 May 2006, Enschede, The Netherlands
Abstract:Ireland’s biotechnology sector is primed for a revolution. Biotechnology, defined as “the application of knowledge of living organisms, and their components, to industrial products and processes” (Biotechnology Clusters, DTI, 1999), is now considered vital to Ireland future economic success (Harney, Enterprise Ireland, 2002). While exact figures are difficult to obtain, the EU estimates that by 2006 the biotechnology sector will be worth an estimated €250billion, employing more than three million workers (Technology Foresight Report, 1999). To date the sector has not been subjected to concerted academic scrutiny. However, a number of recent studies have begun to investigate the sector. These studies have examined a range of issues, including, the impact of policy tools on the formation of new biotechnology firms in Taiwan (Hsu, Shyu and Tzeng, 2005) and reforms in the biotechnology sector undertaken in Japan (Lynn and Kishida, 2004). A core objective in the Government’s biotechnology strategy is to stimulate growth and development among Ireland’s emerging, indigenous biotechnology sector (Enterprise Ireland 2002). Currently, there are less than 50 indigenous bio-enterprises in Ireland, most are micro companies and at an early stage of developmenti. Furthermore, due to the nature of their activities, most bio-enterprises do not generate any profits in the early years, even bio-companies that have some revenue, tend to invest the bulk of their turnover in long-term product development. By way of strengthening our understanding of this important area, this paper provides an analysis of the state of the biotechnology sector in Ireland. In contrast to its competition, Ireland as a nation was relatively late out of the starting blocks in the race to the forefront of the biotechnology world markets. To lessen the gap between the pioneering and fully developed world leaders in biotechnology, the Irish government prioritised the biotechnology sector as an area for increased development together with major funding programmes into three vital areas, attracting overseas biotechnology companies, increasing the levels of applied research funding and creating and developing indigenous biotechnology start-ups. The paper will aim to provide an insight into the biotechnology sector and the allocation of government investment in this potentially lucrative market both domestically and in a global arena. The paper will try and evaluate if the indigenous companies are allocated the necessary resources to compete globally, as well as assessing the strategies and challenges facing the sector presently and in the future. There are currently 60 biotechnology-based companies on the island of Ireland. 42 of these companies are indigenous and 18 are multinational corporations. Of these 60 firms 40 are involved in biotechnological research and or processes. These include companies involved in biopharmaceutical discovery and manufacturing, diagnostics, pharmaceutical services, bioenvironmental technology and agri-food technologies. They include a mix of indigenous and multi-national companies. 3 This paper will examine the Irish biotechnology sector in relation to the development and funding, as well as what strategies are in place presently and future strategies. The paper will then look at investments in indigenous companies and venture capitalism within the industry through and the examination of government policies towards the industry. Also bio-Ireland funding and all the forms of financing used in the industry and how the SFI allocates its funding and resources in the indigenous biotechnology sector. The paper will conclude with some present challenges facing the industry and look at possible future issues which the Irish biotechnology sector may face in its quest for an increasing share in the global market, as well as the critical role the governments agencies will play in these challenges.
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/proceedings/146
Organisation URL:http://www.utwente.nl/bms/nikos/
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