The UK biotechnology industry will generate £3 billion of revenue this year and have 30 new drugs on the market within five years, a UK Trade and Industry spokesman claimed this week.

Speaking at a joint meeting of the Life Sciences forum BioVision and the partnering event BioSquare, in Lyon, France, Philip Kendall, Senior Sector Manager of the UKTI's Lifesciences sector, said: "The UK biotech industry is still number one in Europe and second only to the US in the world." The industry has 450 businesses, representing 40% of all publicly quoted European biotech companies, and 25,000 employees, he noted. "Nearly half of Europe's venture capital is invested in the UK," he added. "We expect 30 new biotech products to reach the market by 2012."

Ernst & Young's review of European biotech industry pipelines estimated that by 2005 UK biotech companies had 211 products in clinical trials, of which 36 were in Phase III and 72 in Phase II. To date, only two European-developed products, both developed in the UK, have been or are expected to be marketed soon. These are Abbott's Humira (adalimumab) for rheumatoid arthritis and Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), developed by Celltech for Crohnís disease and now with UCB. The drug was filed with US and European regulators early in 2006.

Dwarfed by US

European biotech is still dwarfed by the US. According to BioCentury data, total biotech financing increased to $47 billion last year. Europe accounted for around half of funds raised by initial public offerings but only about one fifth of venture capital investment ($1.25 billion versus $4.4 billion, respectively).

The UK leads in Europe on stem cell research, conducting 30% of European activity in the field. Europe accounts for only 25% of stem cell research globally, however, with almost two thirds conducted in the US, according to data presented during BioVision by Christian Cailliot, Director of Scientific Partnerships at Amgen, France. By Olwen Glynn Owen