Although the number of Spanish companies in biotechnology is still relatively low in the European context, in recent years there has been notable growth in national and international applications.
Biotechnology is a strategic sector and one of the key sectors for boosting a change in the Spains productive model. The Spanish biotechnology sector is a sector that has seen significant growth and momentum in recent years, recognised by the OECD.
The number of Spanish companies with biotechnology activity practically doubled in the 2005 to 2008 period, according to data from the ASEBIO Report 2009. This figures show that in 2008, the sector comprised 942 companies with some biotechnology activity. Of these, 305 were companies whose main activity is biotechnology.
The two most important fields of activity in Spanish biotechnology are human health (44%) and food (30%), followed by agriculture and forestry production, animal health and aquaculture, the environment and biotechnology applied to the industrial sector.
The growth of the Spanish biotechnology sector is also reflected in the increase seen in recent years in the number of patents filed at the Spanish Patents and Trademarks Office (OEPM), with more than 81 applications in 2000 and 217 in 2009. In this year 363 patent applications were filed, 60% to the OEPM, while 18% were Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications.
In the EU-15 countries, Spain is ranked eleventh in terms of patents granted by the European Patents Office, accounting for 0.5% of the patents granted by this office in 2007. During the 2000-2007 period, the Spanish biotechnology sector did not manage to improve this ranking, but it did grow in the absolute value of the patents obtained.
The Spanish biotechnology sector is a sector that is aware of the importance of developing the most comprehensive portfolio of patents possible as a key aspect of its R&D+i strategy, for the correct development and marketing of its products and the main means of combating bio-piracy. Growth in the number of applications and biotechnology patents in recent years is the consequence of the strategic importance of patents for the Spanish biotechnology sector.