DTI visits aim to put Brit biotech on map

April 16, 1999

The UK's biotechnology industry is to be focused in four regions - around Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford and the Southeast.

The regions have been identified as part of a Department of Trade and Industry initiative to promote "clustering" of biotechnology firms. The government wants to emulate the United States, which has high concentrations of successful biotechnology ventures in areas like Seattle and San Francisco Bay.

The selected regions contain universities with strong biotechnology and genomics research.

Over the next month a high-level delegation led by science minister Lord Sainsbury will visit firms and academics. A DTI source said: "The aim is to find out whether academics and companies in the UK believe there are barriers holding back the sector and to take steps to reduce them. The government is keen to ensure leading-edge centres in the field do not find themselves handicapped against global competition - especially from European countries like Germany."

Lord Sainsbury's team will explore whether biotechnology firms have adequate access to venture capital and whether academics are helped to bridge the gap between research and business.

A parallel visit by DTI officials to firms and universities in other areas where the sector is showing strong growth - such as East Anglia, the Northeast and Wales - is also planned.

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