• WisBusiness

Monday, June 25, 2012

 1:45 PM 

Biotech industry coping with changing capital landscape

By Mike Flaherty

The largest convergence of the world's biotechnology business leaders, scientists and government leaders concluded last week on a note of high optimism, but with an acute awareness that this enormous group of intellectuals, entrepreneurs, researchers. small companies and multinational corporations need to work together to stay competitive in the white-hot marketplace of the world's bioscience marketplace of ideas and world biotechnology market.

Net income of companies in established countries in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe had a collective increase of 30 percent, a total of $4.7 billion, a record year, according to Ernst and Young.

But finding the financing and investment capital to move forward isn't what it used to be. Investors are shying away from biotechnology, which is expensive to fund and which has long lead times between the discovery of an idea and the commercialization of products, according to a report by Ernst & Young's "Beyond Borders Report." That's a chief concern in Wisconsin as well, noted several of the industry's leaders gathered in Boston last week.

To help address the issue, E&Y proposed a program to BIO called Holistic Open Learning Network, a worldwide "pre-competitive" information-sharing system of data that would allow large and small companies to pool important information in order to speed clinical trial research, build more efficiencies into the regulatory approval of products, and attract investors.

The program is critical for the United States and Europe biotech industries because "we have to do things differently in order to compete in an increasingly competitive worldwide industry in which investment capital is declining," said Glen Giovannetti, Ernst & Young's global biotechnology leader and an author of the firm's "Beyond Borders" report.

"HOLNet would engage pharma companies, investors, heatlh care providers, payers and policy makers … and share data openly in precompetitive spaces," Ernst & Young's report said.

Will it happen? "We'll see," a number of speakers said. This sort of cooperation isn't about winners and losers, they said. "It's about enlighted self-interest."

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