Saudi's biotechnology and genomics sector set for strong growth

01 May 2024 3 min. read

Saudi Arabia’s biotechnology and genomics sector is set for an era of strong growth, according to a new report from Arthur D. Little.

Fuelled by advances in emerging technologies such as precision medicine, ultra-targeted therapies, omics and many more, the global biotechnology and genomics sector is expected to expand at a double-digit growth rate going forward.

Arthur D. Little’s report suggests that the worldwide biotechnology sector could grow from $1.5 trillion today to nearly $4 trillion by 2030. This rapid growth will be driven by both demand-side and supply-side factors.

Saudi's biotechnology and genomics sector set for strong growth

On the demand side, growth is expected to be driven by calls for better healthcare diagnostics and treatment services coupled with growing emphasis on wellness and prevention. On the supply side, aspects such as increasing government focus, rising private sector investment, and technological advancements are making an impact.

Saudi Arabia

Recognizing the opportunity, Saudi Arabia (KSA) has already launched multiple initiatives to encourage the sector’s growth within the country. While KSA’s biotechnology industry is still at a relatively nascent stage, it is already seeing activity from different players, along with collaboration on projects such as the Saudi Genome Program, which provide a promising foundation for the future, said the report.

In the coming years, the Kingdom aims to become a global leader in biotechnology and genomics innovation and R&D, with annual investment equivalent to 2.5% of GDP by 2040. These investments are set to catalyze the expansion of the sector, which is expected to add $16 billion to the economy and create high value jobs in science and technology.

“The strategic investments and initiatives are aligning with a growing demand for enhanced healthcare services and personalized medical treatment, which Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to fulfil,” said Patrick Linnenbank, partner at Arthur D. Little.

Saudi's biotechnology and genomics sector set for strong growth

While government-led investments are driving change, various entities within the R&D ecosystem are enhancing the biotechnology agenda. Prime among them are King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).

KSA’s flagship project is the Saudi Genome Program. Launched in 2018, the program aims to construct a pioneering database that will not only capture the genetic blueprint of Saudi society but also revolutionize healthcare by enabling personalized medicine, driving down healthcare costs, and uplifting the overall quality of life.

“The confluence of genomic data and AI in healthcare is at the core of next-generation medical treatment and may revolutionize healthcare. Saudi Arabia’s current trajectory in genomics research and development is a robust indicator of its potential to lead in this domain,” said Ankita Gulati, principal at Arthur D. Little.

Key areas of focus

While Saudi Arabia is well positioned to move into a leadership position in the biotech landscape, the report said that the nation still has a long way to in developing capabilities across the value chain. Key success factors to encourage progress include creating a broader and more expert talent pool, building more collaboration between the public and private sector, and creating a more progressive legislative framework.

Arthur D. Little’s experts also advise policy makers to stimulate further investments into start-ups and start-ups, and nurture innovation environments and ecosystems through the launch of research hubs and centres of excellence.