Cases and Policies
Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Chapter 12: The Clustering of Biotechnology Firms in Scotland
12 The clustering of biotechnology ﬁrms in Scotland Joseph Leibovitz 1 Introduction In recent years, the concept of industrial clusters has gained substantial interest from academics, policy makers and commentators. It is widely believed that industrial clusters can help to improve the performance of urban and regional economies by strengthening the competitiveness of ﬁrms, thereby generating growth, employment and productivity gains (Porter, 2001). Within that context, biotechnology has been particularly attractive to policy makers situated in less-favoured regions because of its association with the ‘knowledge-based economy’. It is often perceived as a growth industry that has the potential to reposition national and regional economies competitively. While the cluster theory and policy approach has been very inﬂuential, the spatial qualities, characteristics and dynamics of clusters are less clearly understood. In particular, the relationship between clusters and urban economic change requires further theoretical and empirical scrutiny: what is the extent to which urban assets can support the development of clusters, and what types of interactions exist between varied urban settings and emerging knowledge-based activities? It is the purpose of this chapter, therefore, to highlight the major locational dynamics aﬀecting the biotechnology industry in Scotland, with particular reference to Scotland’s two largest urban agglomerations, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The chapter draws on ﬁeldwork which included some 35 interviews with a representative sample of biotechnology ﬁrms in Scotland, in addition to interviews with industrial experts and economic development oﬃcials. The elaboration of clustering as a dynamic and nuanced process, especially in an...
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