16.5 Biotechnology is one of the world’s fastest growing industrial sectors. In mid-April 2003, the total value of publicly traded biotechnology companies at market prices was US$206 billion. The United States Department of Commerce has described biotechnology as ‘the most research-intensive industry in civilian manufacturing’. The United States dominates the biotechnology sector. In 2003, the Biotechnology Industry Organization reported that the United States biotechnology industry generated 72% of global revenue in biotechnology. In 2002, these revenues amounted to US$33.6 billion.
16.6 Most companies in the global biotechnology sector are privately owned. According to Ernst & Young, from October 2000 to September 2001, there were 3,662 private companies, compared with only 622 public companies operating worldwide in the biotechnology sector.
16.7 Globally, the sector has been characterised by a high attrition rate especially among the start up firms whose only significant assets may be patents or patent applications. Capital-raising and cash flow may also present problems and many companies have become insolvent after a few years or have been absorbed by larger companies.
 Ernst & Young, Beyond Borders: The Global Biotechnology Report 2002 (2002), 1.
 Biotechnology Industry Organization, Editor’s and Reporter’s Guide 2003–2004: Biotechnology, A New Link to Hope (2003), 3.
 Office of Technology Policy, The US Biotechnology Industry (1997), 30.
 Ernst & Young, Resilience: Americas Biotechnology Report 2003 (2003), 3.
 Ernst & Young, Beyond Borders: The Global Biotechnology Report 2002 (2002), 10.
 B Williams-Jones, History of a Gene Patent: Tracing the Development and Application of Commercial BRCA Testing, <http://genethics.ca/personal/HistoryPatent.pdf> at 16 June 2004, 6.