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OECD Observer

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Biotechnology is one of the fastest-growing areas of scientific research, the latest OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard shows.

On average, biotechnology patents filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) increased by just short of 10% a year between 1991 and 1998, compared with 6.7% for total patents and 8.9% for patents related to information and communications technology.

In 1999, the US accounted for almost half of all OECD biotechnology patents submitted to the EPO, while Germany and Japan accounted for about 10% each. When it comes to private venture capital, Canada and the United States have the largest shares going to biotechnology.

But in terms of the share of government funding going to research and development (R&D), New Zealand, Canada and Denmark led, with more than 10% apiece. (Figures are not available for the US and Japan; also, see note.) In the case of Denmark, health and biotechnology firms account for more than 25% of total venture capital investment and in Canada and Hungary for almost 20%.

One problem in measuring this fast-growing area of scientific research is lack of comparable data. The OECD is currently developing a model survey on the use and development of biotechnology to use when asking countries about R&D spending.

©OECD Observer No 240/241, December 2003

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