The Role of Public Policy
Edited by Bo Göransson and Carl Magnus Pålsson
Bo Göransson and Carl Magnus Pålsson BACKGROUND Biotechnology1 has emerged in the last decades as a field perceived to be a crucial component in the knowledge economy. By its interdisciplinary nature biotech is boundary-crossing, and the expectations for renewal of academic research and industry production across sectors are mounting. In policies and implementation there is a consensus across the globe that biotech, as an academic as well as an industrial field, holds a revolutionary potential. Consequently, there are substantial issues, regarding what ‘the revolution’ might carry in its wake. Some of those questions relate mostly to the future, and are to some degree a matter for speculation, while others have clear social, economic and ethical ramifications for today’s society. Based on a new recombinant DNA technique introduced in the 1970s, the global biotech industry exhibited high growth rates over the following years in terms of sales and employment. However, the cost of performing biotech R&D has kept pace. Biotech is one of the most research-intensive industries in the world. In the United States, the largest biotech market in the world, US biotech companies spent USD25 billion (PPP) on research and development in 2006 (OECD, 2009, p. 24). The five largest biotech companies in this market invested an average of USD170 000 per employee in R&D in 2007 (Bio, 2008). These high costs have contributed to the heavy losses the industry has posted for much of its existence. Between 1994 and 2006, the US biotech market showed...
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