Magazine article The Futurist

Governments Become Biocapitalists

Magazine article The Futurist

Governments Become Biocapitalists

Article excerpt

More public resources are directed toward boosting biotech firms.

An increasing number of federal, state, and local governments around the world are betting that the biotech industry will boost tax revenue, provide jobs, and otherwise create a better future for their constituents. These "biocapitalist" governments are courting and investing in biotech firms as never before, notes Vanderbilt management professor Richard W. Oliver in his new book, The Coming Biotech Age: The Business of BioMaterials.

For example, the state of North Carolina recently joined a growing number of states, such as Massachusetts, California, and Texas, that provide seed capital to attract biotech ventures. The North Carolina state legislature appropriated $10 million to create the North Carolina Bioscience Investment Fund, and the fund's managers have raised an additional $25 million from private investors.

New Jersey recently enacted a package of bills offering low-interest loans, tax credits, and research facilities to prospective biotech firms looking for a home. Even individual U.S. cities such as Nashville and San Diego have implemented biotech-promotion programs.

Governments in the United States aren't the only ones supporting biotech. In Germany, the state of Bavaria sold one of its publicly owned utilities and invested the money (DM 2 billion, or $1.1 billion) in numerous technology projects, including many biotech projects.

"Biotechnology, and the creation of other high-tech enterprises in Germany, has flourished as access to venture capital, the availability of government subsidies, and a more entrepreneurial attitude have emerged," writes Oliver. …

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