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Will we be innovative enough if we just become service providers?
And so here we are again. Doesn't seem all that long ago when I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Now, what only seems like a few months on, and I'm saying it again. Time flies when you're having fun or is it time flies by as you fast approach 30? Answers on a postcard please.
Before I launch into what the PTE team calls 'my monthly rant', I would like to introduce you to a slightly revised magazine, as the publication has been undergoing something of a facelift in recent months. The essence of the magazine has most certainly not changed; however, this year sees the introduction of a number of new features that I should highlight. Each issue will feature a biopharmaceutical/bioprocessing article, in addition to a new bio products section. The products section has been expanded and each issue will also feature Spotlight — a new column looking at the bio/pharmaceutical markets as a whole, and discussing new opportunities and where threats to Europe may come from. The remainder of the magazine will remain familiar to you, though the design may look slightly different.
Moving on, and at the beginning of December, I attended a bioProcess UK conference in Liverpool (UK) titled "Creating an intellectual powerhouse in bioprocessing" (www.bioprocessuk.org). The main theme of the event was to get delegates, speakers and exhibitors talking about and discussing how the UK can develop its bioprocessing industry — mainly through closer links between academia and industry. There were some case studies from key players of major biopharmaceutical manufacturers (stirring stuff of course), but the really interesting part was saved for the panel sessions. The strength of the US and Asian bio markets was discussed (and attacked) at great length. The argument centred on European bio companies not having the money to compete with the US/Asia in terms of innovation and seeing products through to completion, and it was suggested by a number of attendees that Europeans should work much closer together and act as service providers. Stick to what we're good at, they said.
This begs the question: Will we be innovative enough if we just become service providers? Surely our best scientists aren't going to hang around to take orders when they can earn much more in different parts of the world and give orders. And doesn't it mean that the bio companies of the US and the Far East will see us as perennial whipping boys? If there were prizes for biopharmaceutical achievement, the US would be first, Asia would be second and guess who would be left holding the wooden spoon.