On 22nd October 2013, during the Italian Forum on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioeconomy (IFIB) in Naples, Assobiotec and CLIB2021 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote a reciprocal cooperation between their enterprises. The first organisation, which works within the Italian Federation of the Chemical Industry (Federchimica), is the Italian Association for the Development of Biotechnology. It represents more than 130 companies or science and technology parks involved in many biotech-related fields. The second one is the Cluster Industrielle Biotechnologie, the bioindustry cluster located in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous Land of Germany. Its 90 members come from the world of university, finance, industry and small and medium enterprises, with an international share of about 35%.
The two partners intend to develop a strategy of cooperation by identifying mutual fields of interest in the biotechnology area. Assobiotec and CLIB2021 will give their support in applying for Italian, German or European funding programs and will provide the resources for the exchange of students, graduates and scientists. Alessandro Sidoli, President of Assobiotec, said that the cooperation with clusters around the world is essential: this new agreement will enable to connect the Assobiotec's members directly to a region with the highest biotech industrial growth in Europe. Manfred Kircher, the Chairman of the Advisory Board CLIB2021, intends to cooperate in order to initiate several new German-Italian partnering projects in research and development (R&D).
Presently, the bioeconomy in Europe is worth nearly 2000 billion Euro and employs approximately 22 millions of people in different areas, such as agriculture, food, chemistry and energy. According to the report BioinItaly 2013, the establishment of new clusters is an essential step to support the growth of biotech industry and to promote the economic development and competitiveness of Italy. They can also play a fundamental role in harmonizing and enhancing the different regional, national and European policies relating to innovation.
At the end of 2012, 407 Italian companies were engaged in R&D in the field of biotechnology. Most of them (256, ~63%) were pure biotech companies, according to the definition adopted by the Ernst & Young’s Biotechnology Industry Report 2013. The Italian biotech industry is ranked third in Europe, after Germany and the United Kingdom, by number of pure biotech firms, demonstrating an extremely competitive and capable condition. The driving force at the heart of the Italian biotech industry consists of many innovative small and medium enterprises or start-ups. In fact, the majority (~75%) of active companies in this sector takes on less than 50 employees.
The total turnover amounted to 7.152 billion Euro (+6% compared to the previous year) while the investment in R&D increased of 1.832 billion Euro, recording a further growth of 2.9%. The number of employees in R&D was 6739. In particular, health leads the entire sector: 235 of the 407 surveyed companies (~58%) were indeed active in R&D of new therapeutic and diagnostic products while 197 of them (~48%) operated exclusively in red biotech, the field concerning biopharmaceuticals and medical drugs produced using biotechnology. The turnover of the red biotech amounted to 6.766 billion Euro, with an increase of 5% compared to 2010.