Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Opportunities for Wisconsin companies

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) life sciences sector is fueled by opportunities for innovation. The sector’s size is growing rapidly, and is expected to reach $46 billion by 2019. Factors contributing to this growth include growing and aging populations; increased incidence of chronic and lifestyle diseases; advances in treatment and technology; and emerging-market expansions. The growth is also due in part to the expiration of branded patents, which has created opportunities in mass production of generic pharmaceuticals. The country is gradually growing into a global life sciences industry hub by encouraging local and international manufacturers in strategic partnerships, contract outsourcing, and R&D investments. UAE’s proximity to high-potential markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar is an added advantage.

As a commitment to drive innovation in the life sciences industry, the UAE government recently announced the formation of Dubai Science Park (DSP), a free trade zone supporting both small and midsize companies and global firms looking for a regional base for their Middle East operations. A report published by DSP under the guidance of the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) states that the DNA sequencing, low-cost heart surgery and medical technology categories have tremendous growth opportunities. In recent years, the UAE has been investing heavily on biomedical technology imports. The market has some of the lowest import duties in the region. In vitro technologies and diagnostic equipment are some of the products exempted from import tariffs, while capital equipment and instruments are charged only a 5 percent levy. Furthermore, the report highlights the addition of 45 new businesses in 2015, indicating a 20 percent increase since 2014 in the number of companies present under the initiative. By 2018, the UAE will have 33 pharmaceuticals factories, up from the current 15. Three factories commenced operations in the beginning of 2016, with another 15 in the pipeline. The country is still highly dependent on imported drugs, important 80 of all drugs, creating opportunities for private players to set up their own manufacturing facilities in the country. National drug expenditure in the UAE is anticipated to reach $3.6 billion by 2019. Additionally, the medical devices market is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 8.3 percent, reaching approximately $1.2 billion in 2017.