(e.g., genomics information that is sent business to business) and products with long life cycles (e.g., medicines), for most products, the time to market can be very long (several years). Also, because of the high degree of attrition in developing a clinical product, the success rate for the biotechnology industry is about one in ten, and the averaged cost of bringing a successful therapeutic product to the market represents an investment of around $500 million.

The capital investment needed to pursue biotechnology, especially in the initial stages, is much higher than that for much of the IT industry (chip fabrication aside). Additionally, biotechnology has a much longer history of protecting its innovative efforts by creating barriers to entry (proprietary position/relationships and, especially with the pharmaceutical industry, patents) than does the IT industry, although the IT industry is rapidly turning to patents to protect its innovations as well.

There are interesting cross-plays between the biotechnology and IT sectors. IBM has estimated that drug companies are spending $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion externally on R&D software and IT equipment. As pharmacogenomics and molecular medicine expand, and as clinics and providers move into individualized medicine, the IT opportunity expands alongside them. IBM has announced that its Gene Blue project—the company aims to build a computer 500 times more powerful than the fastest computers used today—will attempt to solve the complex problem of protein folding, a key challenge in understanding protein function.

Also, in response to the needs of the biotechnology industry, several new companies are using the Internet to create new markets for bioinformatics and are offering easy-to-use versions of complex software to life scientists rather than to bioinformaticians per se.



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