From a Feature by Barbara Nasto in Nature Biotechnology 26, 283 – 288 (2008):
Europe’s biotech sector has tripled in size over the past decade, expanding to include 2,350 companies in 2006 compared with the 700 that existed ten years ago. At the highest political echelons, the European biotech industry enjoys the endorsement of its leaders, as demonstrated by the creation of the EU Life Science and Biotechnology Strategy in January 2002 and the Lead Market Initiative for Europe, announced early this year. But the difficulties that companies face in negotiating the EU’s bureaucratic machinery, the poor availability of risk capital, the lack of harmonized fiscal and legal systems, and the slow evolution from a patchwork of largely uncoordinated national initiatives to more coordinated efforts across the continent mean that European biotech remains a work in progress.
Europe is home to a potpourri of initiatives to support the biotech industry. Implementation of European-wide, national and local policies to support the industry help to create several unique environments not only within countries but also within regions and even individual cities. Many of its organizations, both governmental and private, are well aware of ways to further improve the environment. The overall trend is toward the increased adoption of technology and the creation of greater market uniformity within Europe. Growth in the sector promises to continue as all the nations have agreed that a knowledge-based economy is the way forward for Europe and biotech is a part of the endeavor to reach the goals laid out in the Lisbon Agreement.