The fight against cancer

The Middle East constitutes just 2 percent of global pharmaceutical sales, yet rapid increases in population and life expectancy mean its healthcare industry is projected to grow substantially.

Countries such as Qatar do not yet have a well-established pharmaceutical sector. A Middle East economy is dominated by oil and gas. This is why a venture such as that between University of Calabria cancer research start-up NanoSiliCal Devices and Qatari Sheikh Mohammad Al-Emadi could be one of the first in a string of partnerships between European pharmaceutical companies and Arab investment.

It is not only the first Qatari investment in drug delivery systems, but also the rugged coastline of Calabria is not readily associated with Middle Eastern money. Calabria is a region plagued by crime gangs such as the 'Ndràngheta. Perhaps more foreign investment will be the antidote to the paralysis that prevents the region developing.

The fight against cancer is one of the great challenges that man faces, yet excluding cancer research charities, private investment therein has declined recently. Why? Risk. Investors are increasingly reluctant to put money behind pharmaceutical start-ups because chances of failure are high.

The recent BioTech investment represents a bold foray into an industry not often associated with money from the GCC. In addition to being potentially lucrative, it is diverse and supports an Italian start-up that could change the way cancer is treated globally.