By Biotech Consultant, Gustavo Abratti*, exclusive for eFarmNewsAr.com
Pergamino, May 29th. Last week at the session on May 22, the Argentinian congress approved the Law of Knowledge Based Services.
Due to its capacity to add value and favor the differentiation of products in other sectors, the activities of the Knowledge Based Economy offer important opportunities for the exports of the country.
The purpose of this new regime is to replicate the success obtained by the Software Promotion Law, a factor that decisively contributed to the enormous growth and international insertion of the Argentine software industry in the last 15 years, in which it multiplied several times the formal employment and its volume of exports.
The areas that the law aims to promote include Software, computers and digital services but now it is extended to related activities such as Internet services, software, videogames, Audiovisual production . Also activities with a high load of research and innovation such as Nanotechnology, Aerospace industry and satellite among others are included as Knowledge based.
It is of great interest for biotechnology-based entrepreneurs related to farming and plant biology that many of “Biotech” sectors (Biotechnology, bioeconomy, microbiology, bioinformatics, molecular biology, genetic engineering and gene editing) and research organizations activities may be included in the benefited areas
The tax incentives established by the law include fiscal stability, reduction and refund of employer contributions and reduction of the Income Tax rate to 15%.
The regime requires the realization of exports, documented investments in R&D, training, and the continuous improvement of quality including certifications. In order to maintain certain benefits, it is required to maintain the number of employees.
The seed industry and the “Agtech” sector have a great opportunity in these stimuli to facilitate the creation of start-ups and technology-based SMEs taking advantage of these benefits to increase their competitiveness and economic feasibility.
It is easy to see that numerous companies in the seed industry (large and small, old and newly created) meet these requirements, for example, when counter-seasonal activities are carried out for companies in the northern hemisphere, it is invested in equipment and supplies from the seed programs. R & D, or applying huge amount of genomic and agronomic knowledge in marker assisted selection programs or edit genomes. Concepts such as continuous improvement and certifications are very familiar concepts for companies operating under management systems like ETS (Excellence through stewardship) or BPA (Good Agricultural Practices) certification programs.
The recent creation of the Competitiveness Board for Gene Edited Products under the sphere of the Secretary of AgroIndustry is another example of the interest of the Argentine government in capture opportunities that the Plant Breeding Innovation techniques represent for the generation of high quality employment and new businesses.
Nevertheless, in the particular case of the Plant Biotech companies, it would be very important to make progress in other aspects that delay innovation, like the legal frameworks to protect IP of the resulting products The lack of a modern seed law or new patentability criteria allowing to recognize all the work made on “living material” making difficult the recovery of an y investment remains as a very clear threat, the true Achilles heel to any plan that a scientist or entrepreneur interested in doing business in Argentina may prepare.
If these elements of the context are not modernized it will be difficult the recovery of investments and finding investors interested in funding all these projects will remain a very difficult task.
*Mr. Abratti is M.Sc. on Plant Breeding from Mar del Plata University, and Bachellor in Biotechnology from Rosario University. He worked as Lab Scientist in Advanta Seeds and as Regulatory Affairs manager for DuPont/Pioneer.