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Biotech becomes new frontier of Italy-Usa cooperation

The will to deepen academic and industrial ties was on full display at Tuesday’s event at the MFA. FM Tajani and Ambassador Markell spoke of building up economic synergies, biotech in the Global South and geopolitical risks – which require value-based collaboration

Italy, US look to expand cooperation on biotech. Italy intends to strengthen industrial relations with the US, a world leader in biotechnologies and life sciences, to forge stronger value-based ties, bolster its own sectoral prowess and contribute to tackling shared issues. That’s how Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani framed the Italy-US International Cooperation in Emerging Biotechnologies and Life Sciences event he chaired on Tuesday morning.

  • The US “is our greatest ally at this historic moment,” he added, stressing the possibility of economic synergies in the field as well as the need to “consolidate political relations and forge industrial ties,” including “strategic partnerships,” in innovative sectors such as biotech.
  • The event brought together Italian biotech companies and US investment funds.

A worthy partner. US Ambassador to Italy Jack Markell, who took part in the conference, highlighted Italy’s substantial contributions to biotech research and its capacity to connect institutions, academics and businesspeople. “Italy is important for American investors, with its workforce and know-how. The value of the Italian workforce is excellent, and that is why we are investing in Italy,” he said.

  • US industrial titles such as Sanofi and Eli Lily, which have invested heavily in the country over the course of the year, have “grasped the added value of operating in our country,” added FM Tajani.

Tackling global challenges… “This conference reflects the importance of biotechnology, not only for Italy and the US, but for the whole world. The solutions to the challenges we face cannot come from one country alone,” remarked Ambassador Markell, who stressed the importance of access to technology in developing countries and took note of Italy’s specific commitment in Africa, which FM Tajani also sought to underscore.

  • “We’re also active in technology and scientific transfer in African countries, [where] we have important public and private research centres,” stressed the Italian official, noting that biotech is on the agenda of the upcoming Italian G-7 presidency – which is heavily focussed on the Global South.
  • As Ambassador Markell explained, other than quickly providing a solution to medical emergencies, such as the Covid pandemic, the importance of biotech extends in the realms of agriculture, namely the reduction of pesticides and insecticides and its positive health knock-on effects.

… through a cooperation steeped in shared values. In closing, the US Ambassador warned that biotech could also be used for nefarious purposes, including gene editing and the creation of bioweapons. This is why Italy, the US, and other countries sharing the value of democracy are “trying to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks”. He then called on research institutions to work together and recalled the standing Italy-US agreement on research and science, where reducing security and geopolitical risks is also a central issue.

  • “It is in Italy’s interest to work on these issues – which also concern national security – with the US, with which we share values such as democracy, freedom and human rights. All the conditions are in place to strengthen our relations in the areas we are working on,” stressed FM Tajani.

Next up: another event, set to be held at San Francisco’s Italian Centre for Innovation and Culture in the World in January, will be the next occasion to deepen the bilateral cooperation.

Image: @Antonio_Tajani on X

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