DG-Research factsheets on EU competitiveness

DG-Research factsheets on EU competitiveness

Coordination and cooperation are the keys to increasing European Competitiveness, according to the EU. Two new factsheets clearly identify key measures where Europe is lagging behind the US, in terms of  basic life science research. These are:

– Europe trails the US in quantity of references
– The US produces more nobel prize winning scientists
– Europe has 4 times fewer patents per capita than the US and Japan1
– The EU pharmaceutical sector grew by 7%, between 1992-2002, compared to 11.8% growth in the US
– European Biopharmaceuticals, in 2002, generated only 8.7 billion Euros compared to 31.1 billion Euros in the US2
– R&D expenditure in the EU, in 2002, was 5.2 billion Euros compared to 17.2 billion Euros in the US
– Europe employed 33K individuals in the biopharmaceutical industry in 2002, the US employed 142K

The general conclusion is that the biotech sector in the US has grown rapidly on a stable foundation of sustained innovation, successful drug development and approvals, and increasing revenues. By contrast, European biotech is unstable, fragmented and in 2003 showed signs of contraction with reduction in revenues, R&D expenditure and employment.

The solution, according to the EU, can be achieved through 5 main strategies:

– Focus attention on quality projects and people to take research projects more efficiently through developmental and regulatory processes
– Highlight more success stories in EU biotech
– Reduce fragmentation through better structuring of the biotech sector
– Increase long term investment
– Improve technology transfer mechanisms

An overall strategy will have to tackle the need for top quality research via better coordination and cooperation between funding institutions and for a better regulatory framework that will accelerate the development of new products.

To read the full factsheets:

Click here for Factsheet 1 ‘ Life Science Research: US a healthy challenger to Europe’
Click here for Factsheet 2 ‘ Basic research in life sciences: current trends and future needs’

Source: Directorate-General for Research, European Commission 

1An exception is noted with patents originating from Sweden and Finland, these countries enjoy larger public funding in R&D
2Attributed to Europe largely ‘missing the boat’ in the biotech boom of the 1980’s

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