Saudi Arabia offers a variety of impressive opportunities across the life sciences sector including specific areas for investment along the value chains for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and agrochemicals.
Building a life sciences industry in KSA is one of the government’s top economic priorities. In addition to transforming the economy and its infrastructure to support knowledge-based industries, the government is supporting the sector’s development through a variety of direct and complementary investments.
Supporting research and development
To encourage R&D activities, KSA offers significant development finance and research grants through institutions such as the King Abdulaziz Center for Science and Technology (KACST) and the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST). The ample funds available for R&D in Saudi contrasts sharply with the tight financial conditions prevailing in Europe, North America, and elsewhere.
In addition, with its unique disease and climate, KSA presents attractive R&D opportunities for makers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and agrochemicals. For example, the nation’s rates of diabetes and heart disease are among the world’s highest. Similarly, KSA faces a unique set of agricultural and environmental challenges; scientists developing products in these areas are protected by the nation’s world-class IP protections.
Meanwhile, as the world’s 8th highest spender on education, Saudi is committed to supporting a burgeoning life sciences industry with an abundant supply of highly qualified graduates in scientific and technical / manufacturing fields.
An excellent location for manufacturing
Saudi Arabia provides an excellent location for manufacturing activities in the sector. Local operators enjoy low-cost access to feedstock, one of the most significant and volatile cost components for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals manufacturers. Similar operating efficiencies derive from the local presence of complimentary industries such as plastics, packaging, and formulation. For example, nine pharmaceutical companies are currently leveraging these advantages, as well as around twenty players focusing on plastic consumables and intravenous solutions.
Domestic and regional end markets present an attractive investment profile. Investors in Saudi Arabia’s pharmaceuticals and medical devices sectors enjoy exposure to the surging public and private healthcare demands of KSA and its neighboring economies. The largest market in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia also provides an excellent export platform to the vast healthcare and agrochemical markets of Europe and Asia.
Good reasons to invest
- Surging healthcare demand in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region
- Low utilities costs, land rents and tax rates create an economical investment platform
- The easiest place in the MENA region to do business
- Attractive incentives, strong IP protection and massive financial support for R&D, provided by a government that is firmly committed to developing the life sciences sector
- Major supportive investments completed and in the pipeline, such as the recent launch of a Biotech Park in Jeddah
- Low-cost local access to feedstock for intermediate chemicals and other inputs into pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals production
- Complementary industries such as plastics, chemicals, and formulation and packaging provide substantial operating efficiencies
- Heavy public investment in science and technology training to furnish a skilled workforce, along with other supportive investments in infrastructure and facilities