Inderscience Publishers

The competitiveness of biotechnology in Japan

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This paper examines the competitiveness of biotechnology in Japan with Porter's Diamond Model. Japan is an industrialised country markedly different from the ones in Western Europe and North America. Japan has shown a remarkable capacity for economic growth and the use and integration of technologies. Japan is developing its strength in biotechnology based on a strong traditional position in many classical biotechnology sectors such as food processing and bio-engineering in the fermentation industry. This background provides a solid foundation for the development of modern biotechnology. Based on secondary data such as government publications and independent reports, this paper looks at the strengths and weaknesses of biotechnology in Japan. We show here that the support from the Japanese government has played a major role in the development of biotechnology. The clear long-term vision from the government shapes the goals of investors, managers and employees through various policies. The Japanese government has also stimulated a growth in R&D in universities and research centres and which has led to a close collaboration between industry and academia. The contribution from private sectors is also enormous. About 80% of the R&D resources are sourced from individual companies. To study the whole picture of biotechnology in Japan, Porter's Diamond Model provides a good and thorough basis to dissect how the Japanese biotechnology industry acquires global competitiveness. Although Japan still lags behind the USA in the area of biotechnology, the Japanese have been carrying out an extremely well coordinated effort to excel in this field. Japan will intensify her successful approaches learned from other industries to push ahead the development of biotechnology. It is conceivable that it will become more and more difficult for the Western counterparts to compete with this well organised and systematic Japanese approach in biotechnology.

Keywords: biotechnology, science and technology, competitiveness, Japan

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