Despite-a rocky start on Wall Street, the biotechnology industry is here to stay. The growing recognition that it will soon be possible to modify existing biological proteins or design new ones to create a new class of man-made products ranging from medicines to disease-resistant plants has created a booming market.
Over 300 startup companies are now banking on the technology to revolutionize the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries, according to a 1988 Congressional Office Of Technology Assessment report. These companies are currently spending more than $17.2 billion a year on biotech research. While most of the basic federal research funding in the field is being supplied by the National Institutes of Health ($2.3 billion in 1987), the National Science Foundation also supports nearly 2,000 research projects in biotechnology. In 1987, NSF backing of basic research—administered through its biology directorate—to- taled $94 million.
From Lab To Factory
But the NSF knows that...