Incubators of Innovation

Incubators of Innovation

03.16.11 | By Kate Connors

As the distinguished panel assembled by Research!America made clear in yesterday's National Press Club event, the economic future for the U.S. is brightest when domestic research and development flourishes.

The biotech start-ups of yesterday are the emerging biopharmaceutical research companies of today that are responsible for a growing number of new medical advances.

But who are these companies?

Some are start-ups that have matured; where other fledglings faltered, they are succeeding. Some are former specialized units that were spun off from a larger parent company, according to research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group.

These companies tend to concentrate on one or two therapeutic areas often aimed at specific medical conditions, and are generally more likely to focus on specialty rather than primary care. Their annual revenues range from $100 million to $3 billion - yet many may not yet turn a profit.

Collectively, these incubators of innovation are often the source of new medicines for diseases without FDA-approved treatments. And, as others retrenched on hiring, these companies have consistently added more jobs - some experiencing a 12-fold increase in growth of high-wage, high-value jobs.

As yesterday's and future panels shine a spotlight on domestic innovation, America's biopharmaceutical companies of all sizes deserve kudos for collectively devoting a record $67.4 billion on R&D in 2010.

However, owing to their size and other features, emerging biopharmaceutical research companies are disproportionately impacted by the increasingly unpredictable regulatory environment as well as the complex thicket of federal rules and regulations. Policymakers must take heed of the unintended consequences of policies that could impair this sector's ability to develop tomorrow's new treatments and cures.

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