Biotechnology in Comparative Perspective

Biotechnology in Comparative Perspective

Biotechnology in Comparative Perspective

Biotechnology in Comparative Perspective

Synopsis

With contributions from an international array of experts, this book explains why biotechnology companies in different countries arc concentrated in a small number of locations and what accounts for their success.

Excerpt

Gerhard Fuchs and Gerhard Krauss

Biotechnology is one of the new rising global industries. Companies are making decisions on where to place and support research activities world-wide. Knowledge is moving beyond national boundaries. Despite its global character the industry has a very specific regional flavour; it tends to concentrate in a few specific locations. The issue of regional concentration, however, has been overlooked in much of the more recent research on biotechnology, which covers industry trends, company behaviour and national strategies to promote biotechnology, the effects of national systems of innovation on the formation of the industry, etc. (see Giesecke 2001; Senker and Zwanenberg 2001). These studies have revealed great differences in patterns of innovation. Partial explanations for these differences are provided by the conceptual framework of a national system of innovation (NSI). National case studies confirm that the R&D system, the role of the public sector including public policy, interfirm relationships, the financial system, and the national education and training system are important elements of a NSI. These country-oriented studies also show that the strength of biotechnology companies in France, Germany and in the UK seems to be related to existing national strengths in the pharmaceuticals sector. These explanations, however, leave many important questions unanswered. What accounts for the spatial disequilibrium of biotechnology firms? To what extent are successful regional clusters mirroring or transcending established structures of an NSI? Which relationship actually exists between the pharmaceutical industry and the biotechnology industry, which still mainly consists of small and medium-sized firms and many university spin-offs?

The regional orientation, in addition, has become ever more a focus of public policy discussions. A number of countries (e.g. USA, UK, Germany) have recently started to promote the idea of supporting the development of regional industrial clusters. The OECD has also published important policy statements in this regard. The questions as to what drives clustering in biotechnology, what effects of this clustering can be observed,

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