Argentina created the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation in December 2007, with the principal goal of generating greater social inclusion and improving the competitiveness of the Argentinian economy. The current government has developed a specific National Plan of Science, Technology and Innovation for 2020. This one aims at boosting inclusive and sustainable innovation, by fully using Argentinian scientific and technological capabilities, thereby hopefully increasing economic competitiveness and improving quality of life. The strategic areas for this broad plan include biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information & communication technologies. As regards to biotechnology, a special focus is on development of agrobiotechnology, due to its relevance in economic policy (this was mentioned in my last post). Other sub-areas include health, energy and social development.
There are different national financing tools in Argentina to promote entrepreneurship in biotechnology. EMPRETECNO is a tool for developing technology-based companies and it provide non-reimbursable contributions up to $370,000 (ARS 2,500,000) per project. It can be used to finance prototype construction, for commercial expansion and for technology development. Some of the beneficiaries include BIOPRO, which is developing biological pesticides; Vetanco, a platform for IgY production; and MIPAMA, a cell culture facility for human and veterinary applications. Also benefiting from EMPRETECNO is Keclon, which aims to produce recombinant enzymes for biofuel development, and Immunogenesis, which is developing an immunoassay to diagnose specific causes of women infertility. There is also Xbio, working on a recombinant HPV vaccine.
Another tool for entrepreneurs is the Programme for the Promotion of Entrepreneur Investment in Technology (PROFIET), which can be used on projects that improve competitiveness of the production sector. Beneficiaries may be venture capitalists, other investors or entrepreneurs. In a complementary way, there are specific financing tools for research, development and innovation (R&D&i), including non-reimbursable contributions for the process of patenting, developing R&D&i areas in companies, developing technology platforms and for sustainable development. There is also funding for regional technological innovation, to promote R&D&i in specific geographic areas, and for international cooperation.
All these national financing tools are devoted to promote technology-based companies and the investment of venture capital for the social development of the Argentinian people. But there is a final goal to generate sustained growth through the diversification of exports and an increase in the added value of production, strengthening the local economy. Both of these absolutely include the biotech industry.
In my next blog, I’ll focus on foreign investment for biotech.