Data from leading antibody search engine CiteAb suggests that bioscience research in China is set to overtake the United States within the next five to ten years.
CiteAb spun out from the University of Bath in early February 2014. The company has a database containing over 1.8 million antibodies from suppliers all over the world, and uses academic research citations to rank antibodies which gives the company an overview of the amount of research being carried out in over 100 different countries.
The knock-on effect of this activity is the generation of data that provides a unique insight into the state of the bioscience sector - which antibody suppliers are growing and claiming market share, and which countries are most active in research in this field, for example.
Founder of CiteAb, Dr Andrew Chalmers, said: ‘The data we’ve pulled from CiteAb clearly shows that China is the big winner at the moment. The United States has been the most productive nation in bioscience research for a long time, but has seen a gradual decrease in output since 2010.
‘Conversely, China’s output has been growing enormously since around 2009 and if current trends continue we expect to see China overtake the USA by as soon as 2020. To counter this, the USA will need to increase investment in bioscience research.’
Speaking about research in the USA, Neal Kitchen, product manager at bioscience product company Thermo Scientific, said: ‘The general outlook is that the budget position in the US is mostly stagnant. NIH funding is showing a slight increase this year, but it isn’t enough for labs to feel comfortable with expanding and taking on the more aggressive or ambitious projects. “Caution” seems to still be the theme, which limits the amounts of money labs are willing to spend.’
Data published by the company also suggests that Japan's share of the world’s bioscience output has gradually fallen since 2009.
Chalmers continued ‘A continued drop in Japanese bioscience research output is likely to cause the country to fall from second in the world in 2009 down to fifth. Germany and Britain appear to remain stable, so they are likely to become the third and fourth most active bioscience research nations as Japan drops down.’
It was recently announced by the Economist that bioscience research spend is moving East, with China’s funding increasing by 33 per cent a year between 2007 and 2012, whereas the United States saw a decrease of 2 per cent a year.
Chalmers said: ‘We know that China’s most recent five year plan makes research in this sector a priority for the country, and the data we’re extracting from CiteAb demonstrates that this policy is having a direct impact on the quantity of research we see coming out of the country.’ He continued: ‘The quality is also there - we can see that an increasing number of papers from Chinese researchers are being published by top journals. Cell now runs a number of spotlight articles focused on China’s research and a number of Nature’s 2013 research highlights were focused on Chinese work.’