Companies: Biotech Report, investments and turnover on the rise


Biotech-report01.jpgThe Assobiotec-ENEA report "Biotechnology companies in Italy" has been presented, highlighting a sector on the rise with approximately 700 companies at the end of 2019.

It's a sector that in the first few months of 2020 has shown all its worth and potential by responding to the health emergency caused by the spread of Sars-Cov2 and it’s increasingly becoming a key technology for a sustainable economic recovery of the country.

In fact, biotechnology applied to agriculture –the key engine of bioeconomy- offers a concrete answer to the reduced availability of soil, water, to preserve biodiversity, to make production resistant to climate change.

Just as bioproducts and bioprocesses they are great opportunities for the future of the planet due to their low environmental impact and are concrete path towards the decarbonisation of the economy and the reduction of dependence on fossil sources.

“Biotech vs Covid19” survey: a forefront sector

In April Assobiotec conducted a survey to evaluate the role the biotech sector is playing in the global fight against the pandemic and what kind of impact the diffusion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has had on the domestic biotech sector.

The results show companies present in our territory are strongly involved in research on solutions against the virus (57% of the sample) with particular reference to diagnostics (44%) and therapeutics (34%) although only 7% is engaged in searching a vaccine.

The pandemic and the lockdown have significantly affected the sector: although 60% of the sample indicates that they continue to carry on with their business, even if in a different way, 40% were forced to downsize (29% ) or shut down (11%) their business.

Italian-owned companies suffered the most. 13% had to bring their business to a halt, while companies with foreign headquarters have all managed to continue their business (likely due to the fact that they mainly carry out activities closer to the market and are therefore less exposed to high risk R&D activities).

The operational difficulties encountered are numerous, ranging from lack of customers (32%), logistics (29%) and liquidity crisis (25%). Poor budget (36%), inaccessibility to laboratories and suspension of patient enrollment  in clinical trials (21%), lack of materials (19%) are the main factors causing a general slowing down in R&D activities.

“When they were asked "Once the emergency is over, which are the 2 priorities the institutions should work AT/ON to allow you to grow and better face future similar challenges?" almost half of the italian companies advocated an urgent long-term plan for Research and Innovation (42%) and more R&D investments (41%), while foreign-capitalized companies asked for less bureaucracy ( 28%) and a tax relief package (14%).

Biotech in Italy; the figures

The latest report on "Biotechnology companies in Italy", which stemmed from a well established collaboration between Assobiotec and ENEA, shows an industrial sector on the rise in all the main economic indicators and with a stable number of companies  around  700 units.

At the end of 2019 total biotech turnover exceeded 12 billion euro with an average annual increase between 2014 and 2018 of approximately 5%. Two thirds of the biotech turnover is generated by foreign capital companies, which represent just 11% of those surveyed, and are mainly active in the area of human health.

There are over 13 thousand biotech employees in Italy, of which 34% conducts R&D activities.

The total investments in R&D of the companies surveyed amount to 2.3 billion euro while investments in biotech R&D exceed  760 million euro. The latter recorded a growth of over 7% compared to 2016 and 25% compared to 2014.

80% of the biotechnology industry in Italy is made up of small and micro-sized companies, which have played a driving role in the growth dynamics of the entire sector.

Between 2017 and 2019, over 50 new innovative start-ups involved in biotechnology were registered.

49% of biotech companies are  mainly dedicated to health, which is the sector that first gave momentum to biotech technologies.

39% of biotech companies manufactures and / or develops industrial products and services or aimed at the prevention and mitigation of the environmental impact (30%) and for agricultural and zootechnical applications (9%), representing one of the main innovative levers for the bioeconomy sectors.

Genomics, Proteomics and Enabling Technologies - GPTA applications are present in 12% of the activities surveyed.

Biotechnological activities are mainly concentrated in Lombardy, the first region in Italy by number of companies (195, accounting for 28% of the total), investments in intra-muros R&D activities (30% of the total) and biotech turnover (45% of the total). There is, however, an increasing development in the North-East regions and a growing diffusion of new initiatives in the Central (Lazio ranks first) and South regions, with Campania leading the way.

Unanbridged report "The Italian Biotech Industry"

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