Saudi biotechnology sector poised for double-digit growth: report

Saudi biotechnology sector poised for double-digit growth: report
Saudi biotechnology sector poised for double-digit growth: report

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s biotechnology and genomics sector is likely to record double-digit growth as it plans to invest 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product in research and development by 2040, aiming to add $16 billion to its economy. 

This was highlighted in a recent report by US-based consulting firm Arthur D. Little, emphasizing the Kingdom’s substantial growth potential in the sector. 

The study highlighted that the global biotech market, valued at $1.5 trillion in 2023, is projected to reach $4 trillion by 2030. This growth is driven by rising demand for improved healthcare and increased investment from both government and private sectors.  

“Within this context, Saudi Arabia’s directed R&D investments, amounting to $3.9 billion in 2021 and aims to become a global leader in innovation and R&D, with annual investment equivalent to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2040 which are set to catalyze the expansion of the sector,” the report said.   

It added: “This is expected to add $16 billion to the economy and create high-value jobs in science and technology, are set to catalyze the expansion of the sector, reinforcing its commitment to a knowledge-based economy.”  

In 2022, Saudi Arabia’s investment in research and development soared to $5.1 billion, marking a 32.7 percent increase from the previous year, according to the General Authority for Statistics.  

GASTAT’s report revealed that the government sector infused SR11.1 billion into R&D, constituting 58 percent of the nation’s total R&D budget.  

Patrick Linnenbank, a partner in the healthcare and life sciences practice for Middle East & South East Asia at Arthur D. Little, emphasized the synchrony between strategic investments and the burgeoning demand for enhanced healthcare services.   

“Our analysis indicates that strategic investments and initiatives are aligning with a growing demand for enhanced healthcare services and personalized medical treatment, which Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to fulfill,” Linnenbank said.   

The report underscored the pivotal role of the Kingdom’s biotech and genomics initiatives, exemplified by the Saudi Genome Project 2.0 and collaborative endeavors. These initiatives are instrumental in propelling precision medicine forward, leveraging AI and genomics for personalized healthcare solutions. 

Launched in 2018, the Saudi Genome Program utilizes cutting-edge genomic technologies to combat genetic diseases, advancing healthcare through improved diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.  

Ankita Gulati highlighted the transformative potential of AI and genomics in healthcare, stating: “The confluence of genomic data and AI in healthcare is at the core of next-generation medical treatment and may revolutionize healthcare. Saudi Arabia’s current trajectory in genomics research and development is a robust indicator of its potential to lead in this domain.”  

Integral to Saudi Arabia’s advancement in the biotech sphere are strategic collaborations with global pharmaceutical firms and the integration of research initiatives from key entities such as King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.  

The report also applauded the progressive establishment of a regulatory framework, with new guidelines from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority and legislative oversight from the Saudi Research Development and Innovation Authority.  

While Saudi Arabia strides confidently toward leadership in the biotech landscape, the report acknowledged the necessity of further developing capabilities across the value chain.   

The Kingdom’s accelerator and incubator programs, including KAIMRC’s Medical Biotechnology Park, KAUST’s Taqadam initiative, and the Biotech Startup Program in Dammam Valley, are pivotal in nurturing a thriving biotech and genomics ecosystem. 

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