Israel’s life sciences industry is manic-depressive. One moment, it’s preparing for catastrophe and pending collapse, and the next, it’s celebrating the industry’s hoped-for breakthrough. There is no argument that Israel’s science and medicine are outstanding, and there is the feeling that the growth of a thriving pharmaceutical industry is only a matter of time. But it is not easy to translate the vision into reality.
“If we examine how many products in the world are based on Israeli technology, we discover that the vision has already been partly realized,” says Pitango Venture Capital general partner Ruth Alon, who handles the firm’s life sciences business, and is chairwoman of the IATA BioMed 2013Conference.
Alon found that 20.5% of the global biotech industry’s turnover – $24.6 billion out of $120 billion – is based on products that originated in Israeli research. This figure does not include several very important products by Israeli researchers who are currently abroad. It also excludes products developed through the use of so-called “Kvili patents” for the production of monoclonal antibodies developed by Prof. Shmuel Kvili.
In the pharmaceutical (chemical, not biological drugs) industry, the situation is slightly different, but here too, there is room for pride. Products originating in Israel account for 0.7% of the global industry.
In the medical devices industry, Israeli industry has already proven that it is strong enough to attract leading foreign companies. Israeli products account for 1% of the $350 billion global medical devices turnover. Some of this figure is Israeli exports. Israel is also a major player in the medical imaging industry.
“When I collated the data about all the medical products which should carry the label ‘Israel Inside’, a picture emerges that we can be proud of: Israeli academe has made a major contribution to the improvement of human health,” says Alon. “Shouldn’t we use at least some of these capabilities to create a large and important industry, instead of a string of exits?” she asks.
That is still an open question.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on June 6, 2013