Chile’s biotech sector forms new ties with U.S. venture capital

The Wall Street Journal reported that Chile’s recent effort to “kick start the clean technology sector” builds on an already “lively” biotechnology sector.

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Chilean biotechnology companies took their official step onto the world stage this month, with a visit to the entrepreneurial hub in California’s Bay Area and a write-up in the Wall Street Journal’s “Venture Capital Dispatch” blog.

The effort is spearheaded by Chile Biotech, a public-private initiative to encourage the Chilean biotechnology industry’s expansion in the United States and the world.

At a recent tour of the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Chile Biotech’s Felipe Camposano told the Wall Street Journal that Chile “has the infrastructure, the climate and the scientists to spawn major biofuel and biochemical industries,” according to the WSJ’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog.

So far, Chilean biotechnology companies have attracted more than US$170 million in foreign capital for projects worth US$37 million, creating hundreds of new jobs. Now, Chile Biotech is aiming to strengthen relationships with the universities, venture capitalists and law firms of Silicon Valley.

And Camposano expects the relationship to develop a level of reciprocity, with “more American investors backing Chilean companies, and more Chilean capital flowing into American companies.”

There are over 200 biotechnology operations currently in Chile, ranging from transnational giants like Switzerland-based Nestlé, U.S-based Monsanto and Germany-based BASF to homegrown initiatives like BioSigma, BioSonda, Bio Architecture Lab, Diagnotec, Crystal Lagoons, and Savia Grapes. Meanwhile, innovative Chilean start-ups BAL and Andes Biotechnologies are leading their respective fields in biofuels and cancer therapies.

Indeed, the latest edition of Burrill’s Annual Biotechnology Industry Report predicted that Chile is positioned to become a “springboard for biotechnology companies” looking to invest in Latin America and the world.