Experiences in Industrialised and Developing Countries
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Chapter 4: Biotechnology in Developing Countries
Page 54 4— Biotechnology in Developing Countries 4.1— Introduction The survey of biotechnology R&D in industrialised countries revealed three important characteristics of successful application: first, the scientific base has played an extremely important role in the development of technology across all countries without exception. Even in countries such as Japan, where some disciplines were considerably weaker than others, thereby forcing Japanese companies to tap into R&D institutions in Europe and the US, the government has made extensive efforts to build up these disciplines in Japan. The second component has been the activities of the private sector. We saw how in the USA especially, the willingness of private entrepreneurs to take risks with a relatively young technology whose potential was yet to be demonstrated, led to the formation of a booming industry. Europe and Japan were relatively slower to start. However, once the private sector took the initiative, the commercialisation of basic science was relatively successful. The difference between the US, Europe and Japan in the pace of biotechnology development was partly due to different research and corporate environments. An equally important cause however, was the external environment within which firms operate. Our third component, namely the government, plays an important role in developing and changing this external environment. In the case of biotechnology, which raises important regulatory and often environmental and ethical questions, the role of the government has if anything become more important in developing an environment that is sufficiently flexible for firms and which also addresses...
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