National Sector Analysis

Strengths
  • Scientific knowledge generation in research projects and institutions. R&D indicators in the field have been attained that make Portugal one of the best in Europe;
  • Broad range of sciences related to this sector – biology, engineering and chemistry;
  • Groundswell of a dynamic of knowledge development, creation of value and creation of technologically-based companies leveraged by infrastructures such as Biocant Park;
  • 7 Research Centres recognized by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia as being very good or excellent and which employ over 140 staff with a doctorate degree;
  • The percentage of publications in international biotechnology scientific journals compared with the total number of publications is slightly above the European average;
  • The number of patents linked to biotechnology has increased exponentially, accounting for some 10% of all international patents submitted by Portuguese inventors, a percentage that is almost double than the European Union and OECD averages;
  • In Portugal, over 10% of human resources in biotechnology companies have doctorates and over 70% have bachelor’s or master’s degrees;
  • The appearance of new collective dynamics, such as the Bioemprende project directed at developing new business opportunities in the field of biotechnology through the maximization of the potential and synergies of the Euro-region of northern Portugal;
  • Creation of Biocant Park by Biocant Ventures (with the aim of validating and testing new biotechnology concepts and business ideas during the initial phases) and of the Centro de Ciência Júnior (an innovative concept among science centres and museums, containing a modular laboratory space that is adaptable to various typologies with the aim of providing specific training for each educational cycle);
  • Enormous potential for developing applications in the health sector.
Opportunities
  • International recognition of the R&D capabilities of domestic entities;
  • The growing wave of development in fusing life sciences with IT is making possible the creation of tangible opportunities for Portugal, which, until now, would have been hard to imagine;
  • Formal recognition of Collective Efficiency Strategies in areas that provide for the development of advanced biotechnology applications, thus leveraging a new dynamism in this area: E.g.: Health Competitiveness Centre.
Weaknesses
  • Low international profile (still) of the sector, in terms of being a sector that is able to generate synergies and offer advanced products and services;
  • Lack of success stories to create a positive dynamic in Portugal or internationally among private or government investors;
  • Lack of effective grouping and sharing of knowledge among the various participants;
  • Multiplication of local dynamics, often without the necessary cooperation and joint action that would allow efforts to bear fruit;
  • Absence of an effective transfer of knowledge and its usage in creating value and strengthening the economic fibre.
Threats
  • High competitiveness on a global scale in a market where added value is increasingly obtained by incorporating knowledge and accelerating development cycles for new products/services through the implementation of open innovation philosophies;
  • Major development of biotechnology in other parts of the world with a subsequent attraction of specialists to those places, making it difficult to create a critical mass in Portugal;
  • Difficulty in financing new business ideas or in developing existing ones, not only due to lack of instruments, but also due to bureaucracy and the market’s lack of scale, making it difficult for investors to invest in a particular project – need for international exposure.
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