During the last decades, biotechnology has emerged as one of the fields of science with the greatest future projection and on which a large number of nations have set their sights as a pillar of long-term development, considering its wide number of applications and the advance in leaps and bounds of current information technology, which allows it to exploit its potential even more.
And is that biotechnology has already proven to be an option for growth in multiple economic sectors, finding applications of high importance in sectors such as pharmaceutical, food, veterinary, cosmetic, environmental, agricultural, energy, among others, which make it an opportunity for those developing countries in search of an impulse for the progress of their economies.
It is then in biotechnology that a country like Colombia, which ranks second after Brazil in global biodiversity, hosting around 10% of the planet’s fauna and flora, can find great impact possibilities for its economic growth and technological development. However, it is not a simple challenge if one takes into account the little investment that, unfortunately, is destined for R & D in the country. For example, according to data from the World Bank for 2014, Colombia allocated around 0.2% of GDP for this purpose, a value significantly lower than the world average of around 2%, and much lower than the number one country in this regard, South Korea, whose investment in R & D is above 4% of GDP.
In this way, the government, academia and companies must work together to transform this enormous biodiversity into a knowledge and innovation factory that translates into solutions to both local and global problems, which in the long term will narrow the gap economic-technological between Colombia and the most developed countries in the world.
Thus, in the commitment to research in general as an engine of development, and in particular in that aimed at emerging biotechnology, intellectual property plays a decisive role in its progress; This is because the protection tools of inventions, such as patents, greatly influence the decision of companies to invest or not their capital in a certain sector, and even more so in biotechnology, which is undoubtedly one of the of higher cost both in R & D as well as in product elaboration and process design.
Hence, it is possible to show in a different country a closely related upward trend between R & D expenditure and the presentation of patent applications, becoming a clear indicator of innovation and inventive activity in a country. As an example, the above is clearly visible if we compare the number of patent applications filed in Colombia and South Korea, using the data provided by the World Bank in this regard for the same year mentioned above. In Colombia, in 2014, 260 patent applications were filed by residents and 1898 by non-residents; values much lower than those of South Korea where the numbers amount to 164073 patent applications filed by residents and 46219 by non-residents for the same year.
Therefore, it is necessary a change of vision on the part of the government of Colombia that promotes the injection of public and private capital in R & D, which is supported by an intellectual property system that provides adequate legal protection for inventions and rewards the economic efforts made in innovation. Taking into account the characteristics of the country, Colombia has all the potential to establish, as one of the pillars of its economy, its own biodiversity in conjunction with biotechnology; nevertheless, to this day, the latter is very underestimated.
In this sense, Colombia’s challenge for the coming years is to recognize and take advantage of the immense potential for scientific research it has, especially in terms of biotechnology, in order to have the ability to offer products in the future. and services with high standards of quality and added value, derived from a sustainable exploitation of their natural resources that goes hand in hand with policies that ensure technical, legal and economic conditions conducive to their realization.