It’s the best/worst of times for European bioprocessing

By George Miller

Despite mixed signals biotech marches on, and takes contamination control technology along with it

The last quarter of 2007 displayed more discouraging signs than positive ones for the European bioprocessing industry. Yet 2008 nonetheless holds promise. Suppliers of contamination control products and services, especially those involving disposable bioprocess technology, are preparing for mid- to high-single- and even double-digit growth.

The year 2007 will be remembered as a year of contrasts for European biotech companies. Its first quarter was marked by bubbling enthusiasm for the biopharmaceutical year ahead: “The industry in the U.S. has never been stronger and we’re seeing its success story spreading to other parts of the world–particularly Europe,” trumpeted Ernst & Young’s Global Biotechnology leader Glen Giovannetti last April. “Time will determine whether these trends will be sustained, but there’s reason for optimism. Innovation is being rewarded with record revenues and unprecedented premiums in M&A transactions.”

Unfortunately, the trends were not sustained. By less than a year later, European biotech headlines were far more likely to read like the following: “Biotech sees market value slip away,” and ‘UK biotechnology in need of healthy injection,” both from the Financial Times in January.

The dire reporting that followed such bleak headlines was delivered as only the British can: “Investors should stay clear of the UK biotechnology sector and instead put their capital in alternative, low-risk industries as biotech is unlikely to generate positive returns this year, KBC Peel Hunt, the broker, has warned in a report.” Here’s another: “Paul Cuddon, an analyst at KBC, said,


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