Building biotechnology in India – Drugs are not the answer

Ihave had the pleasure of participating in national forums on biotechnology development in diverse countries. A common theme I see is that emerging economies wish to develop ‘a biotechnology industry like the United States.’ I generally temper these ambitions by explaining that the United States does not have a biotechnology industry per se, but rather a handful of states have very strong biotechnology concentrations and many other states are still trying to build their domestic biotechnology industries. So the lesson for many emerging economies is to set ambitions at the US-state level rather than the US-national level. Furthermore, I also caution against aiming for drug development. Drug development is extremely expensive and risky—focusing on domestic agricultural or industrial biotechnology opportunities may be a better option.

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