The Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Industries Promotion Office (BPIPO) reports that total revenues for the industry have more
than doubled between 2004 and 2012, to USD 8.88 billion. Lee attributes much of the difference to the newcomers, founded amid
a wave of investment that began in the early 1990s. After what Lee calls an "ungraceful" development period, these companies
have now surpassed Taiwan's "old guard"—large, established players that sold generics locally for decades—in terms of innovation
Biotechnology Industry Revenues, 2004–2012
Wang says the industry is in the latter end of its incubation stage. Looking ahead, Taiwan Inc.'s pipeline looks great: 17
compounds in Phase I, 73 in Phase II and III, and 6 at the NDA stage (BPIPO, April 2013).
Excellent turnout at BioTaiwan
Meanwhile, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a preferential trade pact between China and Taiwan signed
in 2010, has lowered trade barriers and opened the door for broader collaboration with a country that IMS estimates will become
the world's second largest pharma market by 2015. "If Taiwanese companies develop a new molecule for a condition with high
prevalence in Asia, why not benefit a larger population?," DCB's Lee points out.
Government support: a breakdown
Investors smell an opportunity. "In the past," Lee says, "we were missing a crucial element of our ecosystem: financing. Now,
because of the health of our capital market, venture capitalists are quite willing to come on board because they see an exit:
sell the shares when companies float their stock on the public market. If Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) weren't so feasible
in Taiwan at the moment, investors would be very reluctant to participate in the long-term play that is biotech."
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