Cuba's long-standing investment in education and science, Fidel Castro's keen interest in biotechnology, and knowledge sharing within institutions are among the factors that led to this success, the study found. Cuba has applied for or holds at least 400 patents in the biotechnology field.
Although Cuba has had success, limited access to foreign investment in the capitalistic world of biotechnology, the U.S. trade embargo and the inability of Cuban scientists to enter the U.S. have been significant hurdles, the study reports.
Private Sector Powers Products and Services
"Countries with strong scientific foundations are well placed to succeed, but economic benefits will likely be linked to how well they can engage and sustain private sector growth and commercialize scientific discoveries as products," says Abdallah Daar, MD, Director for Ethics and Policy of the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine and a program director at the JCB.
The private sector was found by researchers to be essential for integrating various sources of knowledge in health biotechnology and turning them into products and services. While countries differed greatly in how far they were able to build up private sector involvement, South Korea is undoubtedly furthest advanced.
Although a late starter in biotechnology when compared to Cuba, the South Korean government has played a critical leadership role and will invest about $4.4 billion in the field from 2000 to 2007. Equally important, government policies encourage technology transfer and allow university professors to set up private firms or spin-off companies.
That support for the private sector has in turn given birth to a nascent South Korea venture capital sector, something that is almost nonexistent in other countries. As a r
Contact: Juliet Heller
University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics