Europe vs US on biotech

An informative article in Le Monde on the biotech in Europe vs the US:

"To all observers, it is clear that the United States holds the lion's share of this strategic market.... It seems, first of all, that the delays in Europe are not the result of a lack of entrepreneurial spirit: in 2003, 1,975 biotechnology companies were counted in the European Union, versus 1,830 in the United States. These companies are mostly located in Great Britain (455) and Germany (525), but France (225), Sweden (108) and Switzerland (98) occupy significant positions....

however, companies in the US sopped up nearly 85% of the toal investment dollars available to all biotech worldwide:

"In 2004, attitudes having changed, 15 European companies were listed, levying 414 million euros.During the same time period, 32 American companies levied 1.27 billion euros."


"This financial gap causes a string of inequalities between the two sides of the Atlantic. American biotechnology companies employ two times as many researchers (172,400) than the Europeans (94,200). The Europeans invest nearly three times less in research and development (6 billion euros) than their American rivals (16.4 billion euros in 2003), and that have a borrowing power four times higher (5.9 billion euros in 2003)."

The EU is in a characteristically long process of "catching up" to the US in this area, and has lots of potential. Though the business atmosphere is certainly somewhat more restrictive on the other side of Atlantic, this is unlikely to be the only reason why things are slow there. Moreover, capital might need to be made available through such mechanisms as tax cuts, but this is probably also not the major reason for inequality. A fundamental problem--and probably the most worrisome--is the general risk aversion of the European investor, notwithstanding anomalies like the money that seeped into the Russian septic tank of the late 90s. As long as this is a factor in the Eurozone, biotech will remain where it is: behind the US.

In general, these sorts of comparisons are kind of shakey. The recently much ballyhooed by the right Timbro study, which showed huge discrepancies between GDP in the EU and US, is one such example. Everyone on the right was happy to show that once again, those tax-and-spend Euros are only good at creating poverty. What they really never mentioned was that GDP itself isn't the only measure to look at when overall quality of life is also important to real people. Also, though some try to make a painfully labored case that socialism is bad for everything, even sex, let's not forget that we're comparing a region of the earth that's much farther north and has many fewer natural resources than we are lucky enough to have here in the US.