The biotechnology industry is among the biggest employers of life science professionals, with 140,000 employees generating $17.4 billion of revenue in 1997, according to an industry report by Ernst & Young LLP of Palo Alto, Calif. Since the birth of biotechnology in the 1970s, many of the seminal companies--such as Biogen and Genentech-- have matured into profitable or near- profitable companies. As these companies arose, venture capitalists fell in love with start-up biotechs in the 1980s and early 1990s, and many new companies sprouted from academic and government labs, or spun off from parent biotech companies. The Human Genome Project sparked technological innovations that have become part of the discovery platforms of many biotech companies, large and small.

As the industry matures, larger companies change their research focus to reflect the success of the industry, while smaller start-ups seek niches that will allow them to survive into the future. What...

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