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Saudi Arabia is on the verge of becoming a global biotech hub

Saudi Arabia possesses the potential to emerge as a prominent global hub for biotech research, development, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, which would drive economic diversification and address crucial national healthcare and food security concerns, states the latest report by Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network, titled “Accelerating Saudi Arabia’s Biotechnology Sector.”

The nation has already witnessed significant investments in flagship biotech research and development institutions, along with targeted regulatory frameworks, totaling $3.9 billion since 2021.

With state-of-the-art labs and ambitious initiatives like the Saudi human genome program and the Saudi network for clinical trials, Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to establish itself as a leading biotech cluster in the coming decade.

The benefits of a thriving biotech sector in Saudi Arabia extend to health, social progress, and economic growth. Biotechnologies can revolutionize various industries, from chemicals to agriculture, food security, and human health, paving the way for a robust non-oil economy.

To sustain the growth of biotechnology, the report emphasizes four enablers to elevate Saudi Arabia on the global biotechnology stage:

  1. Increase public and private funding for commercialization: Investing in patient capital is vital for biotech innovation, particularly in medical sub-sectors that require extensive trials and testing. The country needs more private venture funding to foster a vibrant biotech ecosystem.
  2. Develop human capital and talent pipeline: To meet the needs of the expanding biotech hub, substantial investments in world-class education, particularly in STEM fields, are necessary.
  3. Enhance state-of-the-art infrastructure: The sector requires an advanced digital infrastructure, encompassing internal networks, cloud computing, cybersecurity, AI, analytics, and robotics. Centralized bodies can leverage infrastructure investments to create a collaborative network.
  4. Establish a strong regulatory framework and incentives: Proactive, innovation-led regulation should attract investments, protect patients, and safeguard intellectual property. Saudi Arabia needs incentives comparable to other global biotech hubs to remain competitive.

Implementing these enablers can help Saudi Arabia cultivate a robust and world-leading biotech industry, leading to economic diversification, skilled job opportunities, and numerous health, social, and economic benefits. The development of biotech infrastructures across the nation will further contribute to the sector’s success, fostering progress and prosperity.

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