BioTech: A nascent but potentially lucrative market

With health one of the most targeted areas for new technologies, BioTech is becoming big business. Whether the focus is on anti-ageing, organ replacement or generally taking the human body beyond its original capabilities, the demand for health-enhancement solutions among an increasingly health-conscious global populace is growing. In the UK, Cambridge is home to the country’s BioTech boom, with Cambridge corporate finance helping to support local initiatives.

The BioTech market is built on possibilities and future potential, as opposed to immediate results. Yet judging by the rapid growth and evolution in segments such as plastic surgery, performance enhancement drugs and bionic devices, humans are desperate to push medical boundaries – and they are willing to pay for it too.

BioTech innovation has been largely focused on enhancing sensory perception, mental abilities and physical performance in a market forecast to reach a value of US$415 billion by 2017, according to trade sources. Results have already been demonstrated in hearing aids, internal devices, prosthetic limbs and bionic organs. In March 2015, a Russian bioprinting lab successfully printed a mouse’s thyroid gland, paving the way for the production of 3D-printed human organs.

Pharmaceutical corporations and medical start-ups are primarily focused on two markets in regard to BioTech products – grey consumers facing mental and physical deterioration and the younger (largely) female market for anti-ageing solutions. Both are growing rapidly and provide the biggest opportunities by total volume. More importantly, both segments are becoming more educated in regards to technology-driven solutions and are willing to experiment beyond traditional pursuits such as anti-ageing creams and hospital visits. The European Commission has calculated that in 2020 the EU e-health market alone will be worth €30 billion

Another potential segment is the general use of pharmaceutical methods to enhance brain power in competitive environments, such as those experienced by white-collar workers and students. A 2008 study by the University of Kentucky reported that up to 30.0% of US college students used cognitive-enhancing drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall. Today, that proportion is much higher. The consumption of similar drugs aimed at enhanced physical performance in the lucrative fitness market is also a major growth spot. Both sectors do require a greater level of regulation and oversight however, to avoid misuse and abuse.

Despite the groundbreaking opportunities on offer, BioTech is a nascent and forward-looking segment. Significant returns are rarely expected in the short term and only a few ideas out of thousands come good. For example, Silence Therapeutics is a UK-based BioTech start-up that is testing ways of silencing genes that cause tumours. While the company raised £40 million in a funding round in April 2015, it is expected to continue making pre-tax losses of £11 million in 2016. The business of searching mankind-transforming solutions is costly and painstaking.


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