The Government of Barbados recently announced two new initiatives to attract leading-edge biotechnology companies to the island nation.
The main thrusts of the plan are the creation of a state-of-the-art laboratory for world-class research and development initiatives and the establishment of a regulatory authority to oversee biotech R&D to international standards.
“Because of these initiatives, we believe that biotechnology companies will find this country to be an ideal location in which to operate”, said Senator Darcy Boyce, Minister of Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados. “They build on the existing reasons why Barbados is widely recognized as a great place for investment, including our highly educated work force, our low-tax environment and extensive tax and investment-protection treaty network, our sophisticated business infrastructure, our fiscal incentives for investment, and, of course, our quality of life and friendly people.”
Dr. David Estwick, M.P., Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, added : “We have recognized that start-up biotech companies often face two major problems when establishing themselves: first, the large capital investment required to secure laboratory space and equipment; and second, the delays caused by the lengthy R&D approval processes imposed by the regulatory agencies of developed countries, which are often exacerbated by backlogs and cross-agency bureaucracy”.
“We believe that a national regulatory authority invigilated by the Barbados Government that operates to the same rigorous international standards as the FDA and other regulators–but with no significant backlog or difficult bureaucratic hurdles to overcome–will enable biotech companies to cut more than a year off the R&D approval process,” said Minister Estwick. “And, as we all know, in the business world, now more than ever, time is money”.
“Similarly, by providing Government-owned land for the creation of a state-of-the-art biotech R&D centre in a US $ 20-million joint venture arrangement with the private sector, we will provide rental space for entrepreneurs seeking to develop new biotech products to pursue their visions. Within this laboratory, researchers will have access to the special facilities and diagnostic equipment needed to conduct world-class research and product development. Moreover, their efforts to grow and prosper in world markets will be protected by the strong intellectual property legislation Barbados already has in place, as well as our tax-efficient international business legislation.”
Wayne Kirton, CEO of Invest Barbados, the government’s investment promotion agency, explained: “The concept is to lease the space at a subsidised rate, but with the joint venture taking a negotiated share of the intellectual property rights involved. The size of that share will be influenced by the stage of IP development that had been reached prior to undertaking R&D work in Barbados.
“We intend to make Barbados the destination of choice for innovative biotech companies that are prepared to submit to a stringent regulatory process but also want to bring their ideas to the marketplace as quickly and cost effectively as possible,” Kirton concluded.