The chart below highlights Belgium in the overall rankings. Scroll down to the Category Scores for performance details in the individual categories.
44.4 / 100
20 / 54
These individual category scores are averaged to produce the overall score shown
In developing the scorecard, much thought went into finding a single factor which could summarize a country's performance.
Productivity is that measure.
Because biotechnology generally produces valuable products and services, a very basic way to measure biotechnology innovation is to measure the financial gains from a country's biotechnology companies.
The focus on publicly-traded companies is for two reasons. Firstly, the reporting requirements of publicly-traded companies and the resulting transparency, relative to private firms, makes it easier to objectively compare them. Secondly, the ability to develop publicly traded companies and have them locate in a given country is also a strong indication of how favorable a climate a country provides. While starting a private biotechnology company may be as simple as registering a company name with the local government offices, the requirements for public listing are much greater.
Strong intellectual property (IP) protection is central to biotechnology. In fact, it is said that the scope of IP protection defines the scope of biotechnology innovation.
IP protection is so important in biotechnology because of the years of research, and substantial financial investments are required to produce novel biotechnology products. Without protection from competition or from reverse-engineering, innovators and their financiers would have no certainty of recouping their investments.
In the absence strong intellectual property protection, it is difficult to attract the necessary funding or to convince talented scientists and business founders to take on the risks of innovative research and development.
But IP protection also goes beyond encouraging domestic development. It can also be an important factor in encouraging foreign companies to develop products for domestic needs. For example, a company may elect not to pursue a drug lead if it can only be sold in countries where development costs are unlikely to ever be recovered.
Belgium scored 2.16/10, in Intensity which places it 13th of the 54 countries studied. Belgium scored below South Africa and the United Kingdom. It was tied with the Netherlands. Belgium scored ahead of Ireland and Mexico.
The scorecard uses a combination of absolute and relative metrics. While some metrics, such as productivity, are measured in absolute terms, the Intensity category uses relative metrics to account for each country's population and economy size.
Because of the use of relative metrics, the Intensity category allows you to compare large countries to each other, and it also identifies small countries with strong biotechnology activities.
The Intensity metrics also focus on inputs. Accordingly, countries that rank highly in this category may represent ideal locations for research facilities, or to look for partners.
Beyond gross measures of inputs and outputs it is also important to consider factors which impact commercial operations in a country.
The metrics in the Enterprise Support category evaluate a country’s business friendly features, and the availability of capital in various forms.
Consider that even if other metrics such R&D intensity or IP protection are strong, without Enterprise Support, it may be prohibitively difficult to start or grow a company. Alternatively, countries with low activity in biotechnology may enact policies creating a more-supportive business environment, whereas countries with strong biotechnology sectors may leverage their strength to levy taxes. In other cases, small economies wishing to avoid a 'bubble' have intentionally instituted policies directed at limiting growth.
A common question in response to the Scorecard is 'How can a country improve its ranking?' This section provides specific opportunities.
Biotechnology is a technical field by its nature. Even non-research activities require an appreciation (or more) of the science behind a company's products and services. In some industries an MBA or law degree may suffice for management-level positions it is not uncommon for lawyers and managers in biotechnology to have Master's or Doctorate degrees in science, making education an important measure of a country’s capacity for biotechnology innovation.
So, to answer the question of how to improve a country's ranking on the scorecard, the first place to look is often the quantity and quality of science graduates the country produces. Often in order to improve these outputs requires amending supportive polices and foundations.
Belgium scored 5.84/10, in Foundations which places it 18th of the 54 countries studied. Belgium scored below the Netherlands and France. Belgium scored ahead of the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
This metric considers factors such as national spending on R&D from government and commercial sources, as more spending will more likely lead to spillover effects that enable home-grown innovation.
The quality of a country's infrastructure can be also an important consideration in doing business in a given country.
For example, biotechnology R&D requires robust and stable electrical inputs. Frequent brownouts or blackouts, or poor transportation infrastructure which limits the utility of backup generators can have severe impacts on research abilities.
The efficiency of ports is also important as import of research materials, or export of perishable finished products, can be very time-sensitive.
While weak enterprise support can potentially be overcome by large foreign enterprises with sufficient capital, infrastructure weaknesses may be beyond the ability of foreign investors to resolve.
Moving beyond hard measures of research output or IP protection which provide a robust overview of how favorable an innovation environment a country may present, it is also important to consider factors in policy and overall stability. After all, weak enforcement of laws, or political stability, can trump the other measures.