Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a wide-ranging meeting with the members of the Working Group, which has undertaken the preparation of a framework of proposals aimed at making Greece a “hub” of biopharmaceutical innovation. The meeting was also attended by ministers and government officials involved in the project. The Working Group consists of leading personalities of international scope in the scientific and business field of biotechnology, including Greeks who excel abroad and members of the Greek community.
At the meeting, the Working Group presented the special characteristics that Greece has and which can attract large pharmaceutical companies to establish biotechnology facilities as well as the possible benefits that investments in this sector will have for the country.
Greece can develop an innovative biotechnology ecosystem
“Greece can be an investment destination. The report of the Working Group demonstrates what we already know well, the possibilities that our country has to attract investments, even in demanding fields, of cutting-edge technologies, such as biotechnology. Investments such as Pfizer and Boehringer Inghelheim show the growth dynamics of the Greek economy, so our aim is to further improve those conditions that will allow the country not only to be attractive for investment, but also to play a leading role, to become a “country of choice, reference country “in the biopharmaceutical industry”, stressed Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He pointed out that the high quality human resources can play a decisive role in this effort. “One of the advantages that can contribute to the development of an innovative biotechnology ecosystem in Greece and which is highlighted in the exhibition, perhaps the most important, is the highly trained human resources. It is, in fact, the remarkable staff in research centers, universities, but “and hospitals, which is a key motivator for attracting more clinical studies in our country”, he pointed out ..
“An important observation of the Working Group is that no significant funds are required, not even from the government, let alone from the Greek taxpayer. What we need to do is organize the space, simplify the procedures and create incentives to attract significant capital investments. “The foundations for Greece to become internationally competitive in a field based on state-of-the-art technologies, such as the biopharmaceutical industry, must and will enter now. Greece can, therefore, play a leading role in this innovative field as well.” , added the Prime Minister.
During the discussion that took place, the Prime Minister asked for the submission of proposals “on how the research that is done in our research centers can be combined with the research that is done in the universities, and where we place the limits of jurisdiction between the two”. “We also have to claim a place in clinical trials within the European Union. We will not go from 0% to 10% in a few years. However, I understand very well that when pharmaceutical companies think about “Logically, there is a list of countries that comes to mind. Greece is not on that list. We have to deal with this skepticism. And of course we have to make sure that we have the teams that will participate ready,” he said. the Prime Minister.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, asked the participants for their views, “on how the big pharmaceutical companies think, especially the European and American companies. What does it mean to bring your supply chains closer to your end customers? In this case, closer to European customers and for what types of products or services “.
As pointed out by many speakers during the discussion, one of the advantages that can contribute to the development of an innovative biotechnology ecosystem in Greece and which is highlighted in the report of the Working Group, is the highly trained human resources. Remarkable staff in research centers, universities, but also hospitals that is a key incentive to attract more clinical trials in our country. In combination with the improvement of the wider context, Greece can significantly increase the number of clinical trials it hosts, for the benefit of patients, the health system and the economy.
The Working Group noted the need for a stable and internationally accepted legal and institutional framework governing the licensing and certification of procedures. The members of the Group also emphasized the need to link research with universities. “It is important to keep this group active alive with specific goals. Others may emerge. But in the short term, I think we need to develop some of these ideas that you have proposed,” he said.
The ministers who took part in the meeting referred to specific measures that have already been taken or will be taken immediately to further improve the conditions that will allow the country not only to be attractive for investment, but also to become a reference country in the biopharmaceutical industry.
The proposals of the Working Group
The Prime Minister had assigned the formation of the team of internationally recognized scientists and entrepreneurs in the field of biotechnology to the former Deputy Minister of Health Vassilis Kontozamanis, who collaborated with the Chairman of the Board. of Biogen, Stelios Papadopoulos. The first meeting of the group was held by teleconference in December 2020 under the Prime Minister. It has had weekly meetings since January 2021, when it was formed. He spoke with dozens of people, company executives, lawyers and economists, members of the government and other countries with relevant experience. The proposals of the advisory committee were incorporated in the Report of proposals with the aim of formulating specific actions, the implementation of which will result in the creation of an innovative biotechnology ecosystem in Greece,
The Working Group’s proposals focus on four areas:
● The support and organization of basic research in the field of biology / biotechnology,
● Attracting investments for the creation of advanced technology drug production units (monoclonal antibodies, cell therapies, etc.),
● The continuous attraction of clinical trials,
● The creation of companies that will provide services to international companies in the field.
As noted in its Report, the relatively higher production costs of biotechnology products, highlight the quality as more important than the scale of production, making the biotechnology field, a space in which even a smaller country could play a leading role. At the same time, there are many Greeks in the health sciences and in the biopharmaceutical industry who could be active as businessmen, executives, board members or consultants of start-ups in the field.
The Working Group Report refers mainly to structural changes and possible legal or administrative initiatives aimed at creating a welcoming and well-regulated business environment. It focuses on streamlining and upgrading basic research in the field of biomedical scientists, while also proposing business initiatives that can attract foreign direct investment.
It is also proposed to set up a small group that will be responsible for implementing the proposals, as well as to establish relationships with executives of international biotechnology companies and to promote the advantages of Greece as an attractive investment destination.
The meeting on behalf of the Working Group was attended by:
● Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, Om. Professor of Cell Biology – Harvard University
● Vangelis Vergetis, Co-Founder of Intelligencia Inc., Co-Founder, President and Director – Eucrates Biomedical Acquisition Corp.
● Xenia Kapori, Former Director – General Secretariat for Coordination
. Coconut Laurel, COO and Flare Therapeutics
● Vassilis Kontozamanis, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister – Former Deputy Minister of Health
● Stelios Papadopoulos, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Exelixis Inc.- Chairman of the Board of Biogen Inc.
Μος Simos Symeonidis, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board Therawave Bio Inc.
Ρος Alexandros Tzoukas, Head of Investments Intelligencia Inc.
Also in the meeting, through video call, participated five members of the Advisory Committee that contributed to the formulation of the proposals of the Working Group:
Noubar Afeyan, Founder and CEO, Flagship Pioneering
Eric Cantor, Vice President and CEO, Moelis & Company
Nikos Galakatos, World Leader, Blackstone Life Sciences
George Giankopoulos, Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientist, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
George Skangos, President and CEO Vir Biotechnology Inc.
The full composition of the Advisory Committee that formulated the proposals of the Working Group is as follows:
● Noubar Afeyan, Founder and CEO, Flagship Pioneering
Έλ Michelle Vounatsos, President and CEO, Biogen Inc.
● Eric Cantor, Vice President and CEO, Moelis & Company
● Nikos Galakatos, World Leader, Blackstone Life Sciences
● George Giankopoulos, Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientist, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
● Emil Kakis, Founder, President and CEO, Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc.
● Kostis Maglaras, Rector of Columbia Business School
Τος Albertos Bourlas, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc.
● Peter Orszag, CEO, Financial Advisory – Lazard Frères & Co., LLC
● Sir Menelaos Pangalos, Executive Vice President, R&D Biopharmaceuticals – AstraZeneca PLC
● George Skangos, President and CEO Vir Biotechnology Inc.
The Prime Minister’s meeting with the Working Group was attended by the Minister of Development, Adonis Georgiadis, the Minister of Education, Niki Kerameos, the Minister of Health, Thanos Plevris, the Minister of State, George Gerapetris, Eperkratis , the Deputy Minister of Development, Nikos Papathanasis, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mina Gaga, the Deputy Minister of Development, Christos Dimas and the Deputy Minister under the Prime Minister and Government Spokesman Giannis Oikonomou.