An official from the Portuguese Government today announced that, in 2008, Portugal's exports of Pharmaceutical products exceeded for the first time the exports of Port Wine, the latter being one of the traditional Holy Grails of Portuguese exports.
The news may be a surprise to many, but truth is that the Portuguese economy has for a few years now been increasingly moving towards knowledge and innovation, and mostly through private innitiative which is a good thing in itself but also means the Government should make more of an effort to up the R&D investment from the current just over 1% to something more like 2%. That gap would mean something like jumping from the top40 into the top20 of countries in terms of R&D investment/% GDP.
One should praise companies such as Bial or Hovione that have been making great progress in terms of investing in R&D in the Pharmaceutical industry. But several other SMEs have been reported to have a track record of excellence in this field.
But there are also some positive news coming from other fields such as renewable energies, with portuguese EDP Renewables being worldwide in the top5 of renewables companies and the second-largest generator of wind power. But renewables will probably be a new topic at a later stage.
An interesting development might be the construction of "PlanIT Valley", in Northern Portugal, an investiment that aims at building a new sustainable and technological city and could reach 15 billion EUR and aims at representing as much as 5% of Portugal's GDP. Megalomania? Maybe yes, maybe not, but definitely the sort of initiative that pushes the economy forward.
I leave you with an institutional video of one of the technological parks in Portugal that are promoting biotechnology and pharmaceutical R&D.
Biocant Park is promoting biotech and pharma R&D