martes, marzo 14, 2006

Puerto Rico, biotech test tube island

Puerto Rico Looks to Attract Researchers

By Anne Fitzgerald

Des Moines Register, August 7, 2005

During the growing season, Iowa is a haven for crop seed research and production. In the off season, some university and private plant scientists move their operations from the Midwest to warmer regions thousands of miles away, including Puerto Rico.

Most of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical manufacturers have operated plants on the Caribbean island, a U.S. commonwealth, for decades. Now, Puerto Rico is trying to persuade those companies to locate their biotechnology research, development and manufacturing on the island.

Puerto Rico is trying to attract agricultural related biotech business, too.

“We’re pushing hard to get them to make those investments in Puerto Rico,” Puerto Rican Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vila said during a recent visit to Des Moines, where he attended the National Governor’s Association conference.

Already, Amgen Inc., the largest biotech company in the world, and pharmaceutical powerhouses Eli Lilly & Co. and Abbott Laboratories have spent a total of more than $1 billion to add biotech centers to their Puerto Rican operations.

Acevedo Vila hopes to increase links with the burgeoning U.S. agricultural biotech industry.

Already, Des Moines based Pioneer Hi Bred International Inc. and Syngenta, owner of Garst Seed Co. in Slater, conduct field research on the island, and Pioneer is seeking incentives from the Puerto Rican government to add laboratory space at its field plots.

The Puerto Rico BioTechnology Alliance touts the island as the world’s third leading biotech manufacturing center.

“I think there is a niche because of our climate and our location,” Acevedo Vila said. “What is it they say ‘Build it, and they will come’? Once people start learning there is biotech in Puerto Rico, others are going to come.”


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