BIO Deutschland Issues a Statement on the EU Commission’s Consultation on Plans for a Public-private Partnership in the Life Sciences
On 4 October 2012, BIO Deutschland responded to the EU Commission’s consultation on plans for a public-private partnership (PPP) in life sciences research and innovation under the new EU research framework programme Horizon 2020. In its statement, the association called for the interests and needs of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the life sciences to be taken into account to a greater extent than has been the case so far. While BIO Deutschland welcomed the European Commission’s initiative to mobilise private equity via PPP as part of Horizon 2020, it believes that most innovative biotech companies did not benefit from previous initiatives.
The EU first attempted to promote PPP in its Seventh Research Framework Programme in 2007. The Innovative Medicines Initiative has a budget of €2 billion, with the EU and the pharmaceutical industry each providing €1 billion. The aim of the initiative is to speed up the development of innovative, better medicines for patients.
During early research stages, there is a lack of cooperation partnerships with the medicinal products industry. Basic research does not generally attract the interest of large-scale industry. Innovative SMEs bridge this gap. PPP should therefore play a greater role in translating research findings to practical applications. In concrete terms, this means that the bureaucracy involved in applications for approval and the protection of intellectual property should not be too costly or time-consuming for SMEs.
There is no doubt that medical research and development are important. However, BIO Deutschland calls for other equally promising fields in the life sciences to receive PPP support under Horizon 2020. There are exciting developments and projects with great potential in industrial biotechnology and the bioeconomy. Research institutes should work closely with industry to turn these developments and projects into innovative products.
Peter Heinrich, Chairman of the Board of BIO Deutschland, pointed out that European SMEs employ some 100 million people, generate around 60 per cent of GDP, and generally provide growth, jobs, innovation and competitiveness in the EU. “Providing support to SMEs that conduct research by including them in PPP in a straightforward way would increase value added and prosperity in the EU,” he said.
Viola Bronsema, Managing Director of BIO Deutschland, added: “Industrial involvement in PPP always depends on the choice of topics and the ratio of benefit to effort. Complex regulations, coupled with slow procedures and a lack of flexibility, as well as a focus on the wrong topics, prevent the necessary industrial involvement in general and that of SMEs in particular.”
BIO Deutschland’s responses to the European Commission’s consultation is available in German at: www.biodeutschland.org/files/tlf_content/positionspapiere/2012/121004%20FIN%20questionaire%20PPP%20in%20life%20science%20Research.pdf