2Statistics in focus
Science and technology
OECD definitions of biotechnology
The OECD has worked on biotechnology statistics for along time now and built up a statistical database on thissubject. In order to be able to collect comparable datathe OECD proposes two closely linked definitions ofbiotechnology: a single and a list-based definition.Whereas the first gives an overall view, the second con-sists of seven different subjects described via severalexamples.OECD definitions of biotechnology
The single definition
The application of science and technology to living or-ganisms, as well as parts, products and models thereof,to alter living or non-living materials for the production ofknowledge, goods and services.
The list-based definition
DNA/RNA: genomics, pharmacogenomics, geneprobes, genetic engineering, DNA/RNA sequencing/ synthesis/amplification, gene expression profiling, anduse of antisense technology.Proteins and other molecules: sequencing/syn-thesis/engineering of proteins and peptides (includinglarge molecule hormones); improved delivery methodsfor large-molecule drugs; proteomics, protein isolationand purification, signalling, identification of cell recep-tors.Cell and tissue culture and engineering: cell/tissueculture, tissue engineering (including tissue scaffoldsand biomedical engineering), cellular fusion, vac-cine/immune stimulants, embryo manipulation.Process biotechnology techniques: fermentationusing bioreactors, bioprocessing, bioleaching, biopulp-ing, biobleaching, biodesulphurisation, bioremediation,biofiltration and phytoremediation.Gene and RNA vectors: gene therapy, viral vectors.Bioinformatics: construction of databases on ge-nomes, protein sequences; modelling complex biologi-cal processes, including systems biology.Nanobiotechnology: applies the tools and processesof nano/microfabrication to build devices for studyingbiosystems and applications in drug delivery, diagnos-tics, etc.
Figure 2 takes a closer look to the biotechnology R&Dintensity in the business enterprise sector (BES) for 17countries worldwide. The R&D intensity is a ratio of theexpenditure in a sector compared with the value addedin the same sector. Iceland was leading by far in 2003,with a result of 1.3 for biotechnology R&D intensity inthe BES. Denmark ranked second with 0.70 and Swit-zerland third with 0.28.Figure 2: Biotechnology R&D intensity (biotech R&Dexpenditure/value added of BES) in the businessenterprise sector by country, selected countries,2003
Source: OECD Biotechnology Statistics, 2006Exceptions to reference year:2004: CH, NZ, KR, DE, ES, IT, PL; 2002: IL, ZA
How to measure biotechnology?
Different aspects of biotechnology can be measuredusing the OECD definitions. Besides patent applicationsand R&D intensity, which are more akin to indicators atmacro-economic level, other indicators go down closerto enterprise level.Biotechnology-active firms are defined as enterprisesengaged in key biotechnology activities such as theapplication of at least one biotechnology technique (asdefined in the box above) to produce goods or services,and/or the performance of biotechnology R&D.Four different biotechnology application fields can bedistinguished: ‘
’ and ‘
’. Health is the main applica-tion field in most of the countries shown in Figure 3,often involving nearly half of all biotechnologically activefirms. In Germany two out of three enterprises occupiedin biotechnology are active in the field of health applica-