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Life sciences and biotechnology are both advancing very fast and offer huge potential to create new opportunities for society and the economy. The constant stream of new knowledge they generate covers food quality and safety, health and medicine. It can lead to new industries, products and processes, as well as improve the quality of life for people and farm animals. Therefore, it is important to know how effective research policies and funding in life sciences and more specifically biotech are. How successful are they at generating economic and social improvements? Have countries improved their performance over time ? A comparison of inputs and outputs would show which policies were the most effective at producing viable innovation.


The BIOPOLIS Specific Support Action set out to provide answers through in-depth surveys relating science policy and funding to their outcomes. The 26- month project should then be able to draw conclusions about best practice for maximising benefits. It covers a broad area of the European continent: the 25 members of the enlarged Union plus four candidate countries. In addition, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland will be included.

BIOPOLIS surveys all European countries with advanced biotechnology and life science programmes, or relevant activities, and covers others in brief where research in these areas is less organised at present. The project covers the period 2002-2005, but will also take into account the findings of other surveys in the field carried out for the EU from 1994 to 2001. The detailed and reliable data will cover specific policies and instruments for supporting life science and biotechnology R&D in all these countries, whether sectoral, horizontal, regional, national or supranational. The considerable contributions made by charities will also be taken into account. BIOPOLIS will then analyse how well each country has performed on a European level in creating a knowledge base in these fields and reaping the ensuing benefits.

BIOPOLIS will benefit from the results of three previous projects: the INVENTORY project collected data on public biotech R&D spending (1994-1998), while EPOPHITE focused on assessing national biotech policy performance. BIOPOLYBENCH developed indicators of success for biotechnology innovation measures. BIOPOLIS will also use the Biotechnology Innovation Scoreboard, which has already developed indicators for successful innovation in this area.


One outcome of the action will be a comprehensive overview of national policy in the form of 32 national reports. These will be integrated into an overall European analysis of how policy-making systems are ordered, how funding is directed, whether as a result of policy or otherwise, and what the trends are in these factors. The analysis will link performance in life sciences and biotechnology to the policies in operation, benchmarking the policy instruments against performance.

The result will be a powerful tool for assessing the effectiveness of different policies and implementing new ones that are able to deliver the required innovation results. It will help European and national policies to be more coherent and set up best practice models. BIOPOLIS will also be used as an input to the OECD's Ad Hoc Working Group on harmonising international biotechnology statistics, which will also consider statistics for public biotechnology R&D.

List of Partners

  • TNO Strategy, Technology and Policy (The Netherlands)
  • Fraunhofer Institute Systems and Innovation Research (Germany)
  • Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex (UK)
Full title:
Inventory and analysis of national public policies that stimulate research in life sciences and biotechnology, its exploitation and commercialisation by industry in Europe in the period 2002-2005
Contract n:
Project co-ordinator:
Christien Enzing,
TNO Strategy Technology and Policy
EC Scientific Officer:
Bernhard Zechendorf,
EU contribution:
€ 532,535
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top