Biotech in Countries Starting with “I”

This is a guest post from Susan K Finston, President of Finston Consulting. Do you have a response to Susan’s post? Respond in the comments section below.

Susan Kling FinstonWe are so accustomed to the way things are.  Commercial biotechnology arguably started in the United States, in Boston, San Francisco and beyond.  We like to think that  our technological leadership holds fundamental lessons for biotech worldwide, with translational research spun out of universities, supported by Angel Investors, VCs and/or academic/industry research collaborations.

After all, that is the way things are.  (Or so we thought, before we learned that last year first-time funding by VCs for young companies fell 41% to the lowest level since 1995.)

In any case, it can be disorienting to learn just how fundamentally different the path to commercial biotechnology can be for companies outside the United States, for example in Israel.

The U.S. tech transfer system and patentability for GM inventions date back only to the Carter Administration, some 200 years after the founding of the United States. Over 30 years after Diamond v. Chakrabarty (1980), we have still not reached a national consensus on our policies central to the continuing success of commercial biotechnology, including patents for gene-based inventions.

Bowman v. Monsanto and the Myriad case now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court are great examples of the unpredictability of American jurisprudence around  tech transfer and commercial biotechnology, for good or for ill.

In contrast, Israeli policies around the patentability of innovative research and tech transfer preceded the founding of the State, owing to the science leadership of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, a world renowned chemist.

Before becoming the first President of Israel in 1948, Weizmann was President of  then-Palestine’s leading research institute. The Weizmann Institute of Science that now bears his name has since pioneered translational research across a range of science disciplines from cancer cancer research, electronics, nuclear physics, neurology, nanotechnology and solar energy research, among others.

Israeli life sciences has had its own unique challenges – Israel has yet to implement promised data exclusivity reforms, and I have called out Israel’s past intellectual property policies as anti-innovation.  Nonetheless, innovative biotechnology is embedded in Israel’s DNA and is increasingly important to continuing success of the Start-up Nation.

About the author:
President of Finston Consulting LLC since 2005, Susan works with innovative biotechnology and other clients ranging from start-up to Fortune-100, providing support for legal, transactional, policy and “doing business” issues. Susan has extensive background and special expertise relating to intellectual property and knowledge-economy issues in advanced developing countries including India and South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. She also works with governments, s and NGOs on capacity building and related educational programs through BayhDole25. Together with biotechnology pioneer Ananda Chakrabarty, she also is co-founder of Amrita Therapeutics Ltd., an emerging biopharmaceutical company based in India with cancer peptide drugs entering in vivo research. Previous experience includes 11 years in the U.S Foreign Service with overseas tours in London, Tel Aviv, and Manila and at the Department of State in Washington DC. For more information on latest presentations and publications please visit


  1. Rama
      September 23, 2013

    Curious why India is not part of the countries staring with ‘I”..Particularly since Susan has a footprint in India..

    • skfinston
        July 14, 2015

      Hi Rama, As you may now be aware this was the first in the series that has since included India, Ireland and Iceland as well as returning back to Israel! Best regards, Susan

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