Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Wednesday, November 19th 2014
DuBiotech, the Biotechnology and Research Park dedicated to facilitating and fostering growth of the UAE’s life sciences has conducted a high level event focused on the challenges of stimulating the biotechnology industry in the UAE.
A world-class biotechnology industry is of great importance for the future of quality healthcare service in the MENA region. The experts included Marwan Abdulaziz, Executive Director of TECOM Investment’s Science’s cluster, Dr Amin Al Amiri, Asst. Undersecretary Health Policy and License, UAE Ministry of Health, Christelle Dagoneau, Business Development Director for Biologics, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Europe, and Dr Sanjay Singh, CEO of Biotech Division, Emcure, gathered to discuss how to develop the UAE’s biotech industry and the challenges they face in doing so.
Biosimilars was a key discussion topic as one of the fastest growing areas of biotechnology worldwide. Biosimilars, also known as ‘follow-on biologics’, are medical products whose active drug substance is made by a living organism. Due to their composition there are significant R&D costs involved in developing these medications; it is estimated that a biosimilar product costs from $75 million to $250 million to produce. Added to this is the six to seven years that it takes to develop to the point of sale. Considering the potential benefits to the UAE economy and patients due to the increase in variety of available drugs, the panellists agreed that governments and healthcare providers should support the emerging industry by agreeing on a common regulatory framework, subsidising early stages of the business, and putting in place the innovation platform indispensable for the long term success of biotechnology.
As a highly complicated research field, biotechnology and biosimilars depend heavily on technology and the availability of highly-qualified talent in order to grow and thrive. The MENA region is a promising emerging market for biotech giants and we need to harness this potential in order to lay the groundwork of necessary knowledge for biotechnology in the region.
The findings of a recent Workforce Planning Study by Dubai International Academic City in conjunction with Deloitte examined whether the UAE’s education programmes are serving the needs of the industry. The research found an increase in the demand for skills associated with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The study of over 2,400 students across 17 MENA markets reported that healthcare spending is expected to double between 2010 and 2015 across the region; this comes as a result of increasing emergence of chronic lifestyle diseases, an increase in government budget allocation and mandatory insurance usage. These factors have created an increased in demand for specialised skills, such as medical and laboratory technology, especially at entry and middle levels. Hospital management and clinical data management skills were also identified as areas lacking senior level employees.
The discussion addressed the need to encourage more students into the life sciences sector to stimulate subsectors of the biotech industry, such as biosimilars, so that we may address issues relating to over reliance on imported medicines. The UAE currently imports 80% of medicines, resulting in relatively expensive healthcare compared to countries where medicine is developed and manufactured locally. The experts agreed that to truly develop a knowledge-based economy, greater collaboration between industry, academia and Government is required.
Marwan Abdulaziz, Executive Director of TECOM Investments’ Sciences Cluster: “Analysis of the region’s health sector shows we can expect rapid growth in the coming years. In order to stimulate sectors of the healthcare industry, such as biosimilars, we must facilitate better collaboration between academia, industry and the Government. In doing so, we can tackle the skills shortfall and develop a common area of dialogue to address this issue. We aim to maintain this dialogue and develop a mechanism that will allow us to make changes that drives an innovative environment that will contribute to overall economic, industrial and social development.
“Whilst freezones such as DuBiotech provide businesses with a sound platform to establish in the region and tap booming opportunities in major sectors, education facilities have a major role to play in nurturing the local talent and building a solid knowledge base on which emerging industries can thrive.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech), a member of TECOM Investments, is a freezone business park dedicated to fostering the growth of the life sciences industry in the region. DuBiotech was established to support the Government of Dubai’s vision to transform the UAE into a knowledge-based economy and develop the region’s talent pool.
DuBiotech offers world-class infrastructure and cutting edge research and development facilities, specifically designed and built for the field of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical and scientific device, food and agricultural industries. The freezone can support both start-ups and international firms looking for a regional base for their Middle East or global operations. The park is central to a community that is committed to the industry’s success by bringing together business, regulators and Government in partnership.
Since its launch in 2005, DuBiotech has rapidly grown into a community of 146 life sciences companies such as Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, Medtronic, Maquet, Himalaya, National Reference Lab, Firmenich and IFF.
For further information on DuBiotech, please visit our website: www.dubiotech.ae.
Nicola Hooper, Bell Pottinger:
+971 55 886 2254
+971 55 886 2254