Keywords: biotechnology, platform technologies, polymerase chain reaction, combinatorial drug discovery, gene therapy, strategic alliances, consortia, patents
Strategies of biotechnology firms towards new, platform technologies
The human therapeutics sector of the biotechnology industry is the subject of a vast body of empirical literature, which attempts to analyse various success and failure factors for participating companies. This paper synthesises the historical trajectory of three current, leading-edge platform biotechnologies, namely the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), combinatorial drug discovery, and gene therapy, and describes how these technical innovations have influenced the strategic choices that participating companies have made. The paper finds that a company with a unique proprietary position which can spawn a platform biotechnology can also create a virtual monopoly on the proliferation of that technology. If, on the other hand, the platform technology is created by proprietary contributions from several companies, then these companies tend to be very active in strategic alliances, and in the case of combinatorial drug discovery and gene therapy, this has resulted in the creation of four consortia.