The life sciences hold
just as much appeal outside the United States as within, and activity
is just as feverish. To the north, it's huge business in Canada. For
example, Ontario boasts the continent's third-largest concentration of
biotechnology firms, along with operations for many of the world's
biggest manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Pharmaceutical employment tops 16,000, while the medical device
workforce is more than 22,000.
life sciences are not immune to the market forces that drive other
kinds of manufacturing to markets less costly than America, according
to Jones. Some manufacturing has migrated to Mexico, along with such
places as Singapore and China. One study suggests that China's $20
billion pharmaceutical business will enjoy double-digit growth at least
The Indian pharmaceutical industry is
reported to be growing at a rate of nearly 9 percent annually. Low
costs and impressive infrastructure are attracting development there,
according to Barath Shankar Subramanian, a research analyst with Frost
In Europe, Italy has a long history
of both research and manufacturing in life sciences. Most of the
world's biggest pharmaceutical names are among the 400 drug and biotech
companies operating there and spending more than €1 billion on R&D.
Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark are also biotech
leaders. Among the many other European examples, North England has also
emerged as a significant cluster of
biotechnology/pharmaceutical/medical device development.
says Subramanian, Eastern Europe appears to be on the way up. "It's
still at an early stage, but it may emerge as one of the hot spots," he
says. Pharmaceutical companies from elsewhere are eyeing acquisitions
in such places as Romania, and Asian firms see Eastern Europe as a
gateway through which they might gain access to the bigger Western
European market, he says.
Subramanian sounds one
cautionary note, though: Many blockbuster drugs will be coming off
patent and may be hard for pharmaceutical giants to replace. That means
manufacturers of generics stand to enjoy significant gains at Big
Pharma's expense. On the other hand, there appear to be strong
opportunities for smaller, specialty pharmaceutical companies with more
focused therapeutic niches. That said, biosciences opportunity as
a whole appears to be sky-high. It's not all that surprising, really,
given that people typically value good health above just about
everything else, BIO chief Greenwood told those at a recent industry
gathering: "There is nothing that we, as people, care about that's more
important to us than our health and the health of our loved ones. We
will pay to avoid that pain and suffering."