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Biotechs Change to Stay Alive

Anne Macnamara Like the life systems it studies, the biotechnology industry evolves to survive. Today, companies founded and generously funded in the 1990s are scrambling to transform themselves from suppliers of technology, data, or discovery targets into full-fledged drug development firms that make products for patients. Those that fail to make the transformation face the future as low-profit providers of biotech building blocks, or as acquisitions in the business world's equivalent of exti

Susan Warner
Anne Macnamara

Like the life systems it studies, the biotechnology industry evolves to survive. Today, companies founded and generously funded in the 1990s are scrambling to transform themselves from suppliers of technology, data, or discovery targets into full-fledged drug development firms that make products for patients. Those that fail to make the transformation face the future as low-profit providers of biotech building blocks, or as acquisitions in the business world's equivalent of extinction. For those that do evolve, the reward can be robust profits like those enjoyed by large pharmaceutical companies, as well as freedom from the up-and-down investment cycles that rule the industry.

For scientists, such evolution could mean a new era of industrialized biology that creates opportunities to do highly paid work in the private sector. "I believe we are seeing the commercialization of biology which ultimately will translate into new career opportunities ... for people in biomedical...

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