Biotech tipped to drive revival

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    Biotech tipped to drive revival
    May 1
    Mandy Bryan

    IDC Australia thumbed its nose at the negative sentiment pervading Australia's information technology industry and instead dubbed it "the comeback kid" at its annual predictions fest yesterday.

    The IT market analyst disregarded gloom in the United States and reports of ever-tightening IT budgets to forecast local compound annual growth of 10 per cent starting from the second calendar half of this year through to 2006, when it said the local IT industry would be worth $38 billion.

    It predicted that it would not be until 2003, however, that annual growth would recover to 9.7 per cent, just shy of the 10 per cent levels experienced in 2000. Business integration, mobile and wireless, security and new computing architectures would bring back market momentum, according to IDC, while software and services, expected to grow 18.3 per cent and 11 per cent by 2006 respectively, would be the star segments. It expects the PC market, in contrast, to grow just 1.9 per cent in that time.

    But the real buzz this year was around the biotech boom, said the keynote speaker and IDC Asia Pacific director, life sciences research and consulting, Phil Fersht.

    BioIT, the bridge between IT and science, generated by the recent unravelling of the human genome and the resulting explosion in data management requirements, was set to become one of the fastest growing vertical segments, he said.

    "We estimate a $3.6 billion BioIT market in Asia Pacific and $38billion market worldwide by 2006," Mr Fersht said.

    Driving the spend was the race within the life sciences industry to commercialise developments, and IT investments could help slash time to market for new drugs and remedies from 12 years to four, he said.

    Expected to be most in demand were data management and storage solutions, computation engines and database analysis tools, internet servers and services, and visualisation software.



    "The next two to three years are going to be critical, with very high growth expected between 2003 and 2006 as scientists spend investment dollars on technology to support their research," he said.

    Mr Fersht said the large IT vendors, IBM, Oracle, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Dell were already positioning themselves as life sciences IT providers.

    IBM formed a dedicated life sciences team in Australia this year and has said it is working with start-ups to provide them with open and scalable infrastructure as well as access to R&D capabilities.

    Mr Fersht said there was still room for smaller niche players, but he stressed that vendors pursuing this market should note the importance of social networks and that its decision makers were generally conservative and resistant to change.

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