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  • 14 July 2015
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Funding boom lifts biotech globally in 2014

The year 2014 was the second best year for biotech and lifesciences industry in terms of fund raising and new drug approvals


Investor appetite for lifescience companies was at a peak thanks to many breakthrough technologies such as drug to treat Hepatitis C. No wonder investors opened the purse strings to buy a slice of the industry in record numbers.

A study by investment analysts Burrill LLC based in San Francisco, the lifesciences industry raised a record $104.2 billion in venture investment in 2014 against just $92.9 billion in 2013. The previous highest was $108.6 billion raised by the industry in 2009. And much of that record amount was tied to some large acquisitions and not pure venture funding.

Summed up Burrill CEO, Mr Steven Burrill: "In 2014 the biotechnology industry exceeded expectations in its ability to raise money that bodes well for the health of the industry and its ability to drive innovative therapies from the clinic to the market in the years ahead."
What is more significant is that it was a good year for initial public offerings (IPOs) by innovative lifescience companies. More than 126 companies raised over $10.4 billion. Majority of these IPOs were in the US. But in 2015, Burrill predicts that nearly 40 percent of the IPOs will happen in Asia and Europe as companies tap their home markets.

Why is the world gung ho about the lifesciences industry? The US regulator FDA approved 41 new drugs and biologics in 2014 compared to 27 in 2013. This is the second highest year of drug approval after 53 new drugs approved way back in 1996.

Most of Mr Burrill's predictions have been on target for the past 30 years. Here is what he predicts for 2015 globally.

  • Innovative therapies like cancer immunotherapies, gene therapy, and regenerative medicines will take stronger route
  • Investments in data analytics will grow as all key players in the healthcare system will use this as a competitive tool to gather, integrate and analyze multiple, large databases to drive decision making
  • Next generation sequencing as a platform technology will yield to technology as a service. Pharma companies will make big investments to refine the genomics toolbox to use the technology as diagnostic tests
  • More point-of-care diagnostics will emerge as genomics technologies are used to speed and simplify tests

How will these global trends impact the lifesciences industry in Asia-Pacific? Companies in the region have been focused on markets in the US and Europe so far to export their generics products and offer various outsourced services. At the same time, companies in developed nations are looking at new markets in Asia, attracted by the economic boom and increased prosperity levels of citizens.

This trend has been witnessed in other industrial sectors such as telecommunications and computing devices. Some of the Asia-made products have captured world markets and Asia is the biggest market for many telecom products and services.

The lifesciences industry leaders should take the cue from the telecom counterparts and give some focus to the Asian markets too and not be left behind in quest to reach out to customers in their own backyard.

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