Biotechnology has emerged in recent years as a powerful medium for socio-economic development. A large number of biotechnologies are being developed; these include recombinant vaccines, vaccines in drug delivery, molecular diagnostics, bioremediation, sequencing of genomes, bioinformatics development, genetically modified crops, recombinant therapeutic proteins etc. Multibillion dollar industries are being developed in many of these fields and countries such as Cuba, which are investing massively in such technologies that have begun to benefit mankind in a major way.
The three major players in the development of a knowledge economy are universities, industry and the government. All three thrive on merit-based competiveness that should be built into the system and on the efficiency of interaction among all three players. The development of a knowledge economy requires a thorough understanding of the dynamic interplay between research, invention, innovation, and economic growth. Such an understanding allows them to be modulated according to national needs and challenges.
The global trends in manufacturing and exports over the last 3 decades clearly show a sharp rise in high and medium technology goods and a sharp consistent decline in low technology goods and in natural resources. The big money lies in high technology and countries that have realized this have invested massively in knowledge-based economies that lead to the manufacture and exports of electronics, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, biotech products, computers, software, automobiles, aircraft, defense equipment, alternative energy products and many other such items requiring highly specialized skills and world class research centres. That is why the annual exports of a tiny country (Singapore) which has a population only of about 5 million and no significant natural resources are over US $ 458 billion.
Pakistan made remarkable progress in science and higher education during the 9 years (2000-2008) when I was Federal Minister for Science & Technology as well as the Federal Minister responsible for Higher Education that resulted in over 1000% increase in international publications in high impact journals and even greater increases in citations and PhD output. This laid the foundations for a strong knowledge economy.
I hope such issues as well as the exciting recent advances in biotechnology will be discussed in depth at the conference.
I wish Biotech-2016 all success.
Prof. Atta-Ur-Rahman, FRS
UNESCO Science Laureate
President Network of Academies of Science in Countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (NASIC),
International Centre for Chemical & Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, Karachi 75270, Pakistan.
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