The first of the 2017 meetings posed a clear question: how to attract greater investment in the Life Sciences sector in Italy. Providing answers were representatives from business and finance.
This is the goal of the activity of the Technology Forum Life Sciences for 2017. Specifically, efforts will be focused on building on 2016 results to aid in the implementation phase of a number of priorities that emerged:
While also including the Regions and underscoring the importance of having a unified perspective for the entire biopharmaceuticals process, from research to innovation that results in a product, including biotechnology production.
Taking part in the first meeting were: - Valerio De Molli: Managing Partner, The European House - Ambrosetti - Guido Guidi: Former Head of Pharma Region Europe, Novartis - Paolo Siviero: Fund Manager, Principia III Health - Fabio Mondini de Focatiis: Senior Advisor, European Investment Fund
Providing answers were representatives from business and finance.
Emerging first and foremost was the question of trust in Italy and the potential represented by Life Sciences in terms of competitiveness on an international level. The major multinationals still have difficulty seeing Italy as a lead-country on a par with Germany and France. Why is this?
In part, because what would be needed are even more aggressive incentives to invest in research (for example, France’s tax credits), and in part for the lack of coordination and way public funding is allocated. But the difficulty in attracting investment would seem above all a cultural one tied to the lack of an entrepreneurial culture.
Italy has excellent research and extraordinary talent, but they are not adequately recognized. The younger generation needs to be trained in a way that (innovative and high-quality) research reaches the market. Developing drugs is not just a cost, but also represents a return (in terms of revenue) for the entire country and its economy. Despite the progress made in recent years, the road would still seem a long one.
Therefore, technology transfer is not just a tool for making Italy more competitive and attractive, but also a cultural necessity.
A cultural prejudice still exists towards the business world that is inherent in academia. Often, institutions are not open to “doing business”, they do not see any real value in creating spin-offs.
In addition, the idea of private support for research is seen as an awkward adulteration. And the result is a system that is stagnant.
Finally, our researchers are often unable to communicate with businessmen and investors. There is a clear problem of competencies that change during the course of the various phases of developing an idea. In fact, those researchers who have been able to bring their ideas to the market because of their ability to manage the “business” are a rarity.
Entrepreneurship should be part of the scholastic fabric. And the stories of entrepreneurial success should be told, praised and promoted in order to stimulate new ideas, inspire young people and spread an important message: “doing business creates value”.
The concept of creating a bridge between the world of academic research and universities where ideas are born, and investors and the market becomes a necessity, a sort of last call.
The high quality of Italian scientific output (Italy is seventh in the world according to OECD and Eurostat statistics) is not supported by a level of investment that could result in an immediate translation into products or services. It is for this reason that the Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti in collaboration with the European Investment Fund has created ITAtech, the first Italian equity investment platform dedicated to technology transfer, with holdings of 200 million euros. The platform has been designed to support, catalyze and accelerate the commercialization of high-tech intellectual property and, more generally, the translation of research results into new business projects and opportunities. A sort of “fund funding” to finance licensing, patent sales, spin-offs and start-ups, right from the initial phase.
The gaps to be filled are clear and the goals have been set. The time is right to shift from thought to action and finally make Italy the place we would like for the biopharmaceuticals of tomorrow: a leading player in the research, development, production and access to innovative, biotech products.