Industry looks to Finnish Presidency to take the lead on important biotech issues

June 21, 2006

Helsinki, 19 June 2006

EuropaBio welcomes the initiative of the Austrian and Finnish Presidencies to bring together industry, the EU institutions, and Member States to discuss the EU's Life Sciences and Biotechnology Strategy and policy issues at a Round Table (1) that opens tomorrow in Helsinki. 2006 is an important year for the EU's Life Sciences and Biotech Strategy which is now subject to a mid-term policy review being carried out by the EU Commission. The review will examine progress made to date, what needs to change and what new policies are required to advance Europe's biotech base.

The mid-term policy review could be an opportunity to reinvigorate the process and to accelerate the pace of implementation of the Biotechnology Strategy by all 25 Member States. The biotech industry hopes that over the six months when the Finns take over the EU Presidency, the country will take the lead on a number of important issues that are crucial for the future of European biotechnology (2). Europe desperately needs policy coherence to build a competitive knowledge based bio-economy (3). That means predictable rules for all biotech sectors, implementation of EU legislation at national level, increased public awareness of biotech benefits and support for research and innovation.

In the next six months several important political decisions will have to be considered by the EU institutions on healthcare biotech (4) such as how to ensure harmonised clinical trial requirements in the different Member States and adapt them to new biotech breakthroughs. As new treatments are developed for chronic and seriously debilitating diseases, it becomes more and more important for patients in all Member States to have access to new biotech treatments at the same time. "Patients should have access to new treatments no matter where they live in Europe," says Johan Vanhemelrijck, Secretary General of EuropaBio - the EU association for bioindustries.

The creation of a new European Framework for Advanced Therapies (5) is also on the political agenda during the Finnish Presidency. This is a very important regulation that will create a single European marketing authorization for a brand new area of regenerative medicinal products brought about by major breakthroughs in tissue engineering, gene and cell therapies that tackle the under lying causes of disease and not just the symptoms.

For Europe to sustainably meet its competitive and environmental challenges in the agri-food sector, progress must be made in Green biotechnology (6). Meeting Europe's future energy demands, and using bioprocesses and biofuels (7) like bioethanol and biodiesel can generate a whole new market. "Industrial biotechnology or white biotech is using renewable resources and biomass to create a wide range of energy efficient bioproducts and goods (8). The biotech industry is looking to the Finnish Presidency - a country that has a reputation for innovation and environmental sustainability - to really make progress on building the new bio-based economy," says Johan Vanhemelrijck.

Being competitive also means the creation of a positive environment to attract more investors, and increase the access of SMEs to finance and their capacity to overcome current obstacles (9). EuropaBio hopes to see the Young Innovative Company (YIC) definition (10) introduced across Europe - such a definition has already been introduced in France and Belgium - which confers special tax exemptions and benefits to young research based companies.

For further information, contact:

Adeline Farrelly Tel: +32 2 735 0313 Direct: +32 2 739 1174 Mobile: +32 475 93 17 24
Email: a.farrelly@europabio.org
Alina Cornea - Tel: 32 2 739 11 81 Mobile:+32 473 660 558 Email: a.cornea@europabio.org

Notes for Editors

EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, has 70 corporate and associate members operating worldwide and 24 national biotechnology associations representing some 1500 small and medium sized enterprises involved in research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products.

Useful links

1 - Austrian and Finnish Presidency hosts Biotech Policy Round Table programme

2 - Biotech key events and dates under the Finnish Presidency

3 - About the bioeconomy

About Healthcare Biotech

4 - Healthcare Manifesto

5 - Advanced therapies regulation - EuropaBio fact sheet

About Green biotech

6 - Plants for the future Technology Platform

About White biotech

7 - Sustainable biofuels - EuropaBio fact sheet

8 - Technology Platform on Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem)

Finance

9 - ">http:///www.europabio.org/ne_criticalI.htm"> Critical I study for EuropaBio on the chronic underfunding of biotechnology industries

10 - Young Innovative Company status

EUROPABIO

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