LONDON _ The British government has launched a 10 million($16 million) program to increase the awareness of biotechnologyamong companies in the U.K.

Michael Heseltine, minister for Trade and Industry, said that the"Biotechnology Means Business" initiative aims to raise the profileof the sector among companies that could use biotechnology.

"A lot of companies don't know that there is a market calledbiotechnology out there that they ought to look at," Heseltine told anindustry audience. "It often isn't apparent to companies thatbiotechnology is relevant to what they are doing," he added.

The Department of Trade and Industry, the ministry responsible forthe scheme, has targeted a number of sectors for its message."Industries like food, chemicals, paper, textiles, oil and gas andleather could all reap large-scale benefits from improved productsand processes," said Heseltine, "others could use biotechnology incheap and effective ways to deal with industrial waste."

A key component of the plan is a telephone hot line that companiescould call for advice on how biotechnology could assist them. Theinitiative also will deliver a series of publications and events aimed atincreasing awareness of biotechnology within the businesscommunity in Britain.

Asked if this meant that the telephone hot line might direct callers toforeign sources of expertise, Heseltine said that the system could wellend up directing people to where the most advanced research takesplace "and that could well be abroad." _ Michael Kenward

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.