NZ bio sector grows 20% in two years, patent growth strong

Article – BusinessDesk

Dec. 14 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s bioscience sector has grown more than 20 percent in two years, putting the country ahead of the OECD average when it comes to focusing on bio-economy opportunities, says a report from NZBio, the bio-sciences …

NZ bio sector grows 20% in two years, patent growth strong

By Hannah Lynch

Dec. 14 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s bioscience sector has grown more than 20 percent in two years, putting the country ahead of the OECD average when it comes to focusing on bio-economy opportunities, says a report from NZBio, the bio-sciences industry network.

The 2010 bioscience industry report shows the volume of bio-science patents has risen sharply, with 365 patents granted between 2007 and 2009, pushing New Zealand’s OECD ranking to 10th for biotechnology applications per head of population.

“New Zealand has a very notable specialisation in patenting bio-technology inventions relative to innovation in other fields, ranking third in the OECD,” the report said. “The bio-science sector is growing in productivity as increasing numbers of companies create, improve and introduce new products.”

Between 2007 and 2009, 126 bioscience organizations released one or more new or significantly improved product or service, up from 75 in the prior two years.

However, the sector is constrained by a lack of access to investment capital after start-up and what NZBio says is a “punitive tax system covering the sale of patents that encourages their registration offshore,” said Peter Bradley, acting chief executive of NZBio.

“It is often a condition of overseas investors that the intellectual property (including patents) of a New Zealand company is moved into an offshore entity before they will reinvest, or while the value is still low. In this way, very young companies are driven overseas – potentially taking their staff, jobs, activities and assets with them,” Bradley said.

The report emphasises the need to develop a better relationship with foreign investors in order to help access markets and complementary technologies and capabilities, especially since the vital role of foreign investment is often under-appreciated in the development of government policy and practice.

The report comes two days after fourth-ranked Cabinet Minister Steven Joyce was given the innovation and science portfolio, along with responsibility for economic development and tertiary education.

(BusinessDesk)

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