Keywords: biotechnology, innovation, regional development, technological evolution, institutional support
Breaking the mould: new technology sectors in an old industrial region
Conceptions of innovation in the biotechnology industry are rooted in the belief that biotechnology is part of the commercialisation of science in support of pharmaceutical R&D. The consequence of this has been to make two assumptions: that all biotechnology innovation is high science-content, and that only high science-content innovation is worth pursuing. This suggests that the future geography of biotechnology innovation will be limited to those locations with existing biotechnology research assets. This paper looks at one region in which there are no high science-content biotechnology R&D assets and finds that despite this situation, biotechnology innovation is still present. That innovation is characterised as low science-content innovation (LSCI), and the argument is developed that this mode of innovation is also present in more successful regions. The paper concludes that there is a need for biotechnology innovation studies in more successful regions to deal with the issue of LSCI, whilst beginning to explore the kinds of technological infrastructure necessary for the support of LSCI.