Spain nudges biotech from nest

homecoverThe Spanish government has folded a nationwide tech transfer body into the central science foundation, ending a decade of special treatment for the biotech community. The Foundation for Genomic and Proteomic Development and Investigation, better known as Genoma España, was set up in 2002 in Madrid by the Spanish Science Ministry to incubate biotech businesses. Now its €4.5 ($6.2)-million budget is unlikely to go with it, Spanish science news outlet Materia reports. The tech transfer body spent about €1 ($1.3) million on operating expenses and salaries, and the rest on financing and support for R&D programs. Although employees and the existing portfolio of projects have moved to the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), biotech enterprises will compete with other sectors for patent support, early-stage subsidies and other services. Genoma España depended on public funding, but governmental R&D budgets have been cut for the last four fiscal years. CDTI will maintain InnoCash, a Genoma España program to support existing businesses, alongside its current €720 ($936) million a year in tech transfer financing. “Genoma España has been fundamental for the development of biotechnology in Spain in recent years,” says industry spokesperson Lucía Cecilia on behalf of the Spanish Association of Biocompanies (ASEBIO). “Its demise need not presuppose the disappearance of its activities. We think [CDTI] will be able to assume those functions…we want to give a vote of confidence to the new model, but we will follow closely the evolution of its activities.”

First published by Nature Biotechnology: [html] [pdf].