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The Economic Dynamics of Modern Biotechnology

Edited by Maureen McKelvey, Annika Rickne and Jens Laage-Hellman

This book offers a novel insight into the economic dynamics of modern biotechnology, using examples from Europe to reflect global trends. The authors apply theoretical insight to a fundamental enigma of the modern learning society, namely, how and why the development of knowledge and ideas interact with market processes and the formation of industries and firms.
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Chapter 7: Network and Technology Systems in Science-driven Fields: The Case of European Food Biotechnology

Finn Valentin and Rasmus Lund Jensen


7. Networks and technology systems in science-driven fields: the case of European food biotechnology Finn Valentin and Rasmus Lund Jensen 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter has a theoretical as well as a practical aspect. From the latter perspective we study a representative field of biotechnology – microorganisms applied in food processing – where Europe innovates at orders of magnitude higher than the USA, much in contrast to most other fields of biotechnology (Henderson et al 1999). The enormous economic potential of biotechnology makes it an issue of considerable practical relevance to understand why Europe performs particularly well in this field. At the same time this area of food science, like all research and development (R&D) in biotechnology, relies heavily on network formation between organizations (Saviotti 1998). Leads are derived primarily from relationships between organizations, less from their advantages as separate units. The better we theoretically understand these inter-organizational arrangements, the more precisely may we extract the lessons from this particular niche of European success. Inter-organizational advantages have been theorized in more versions than can be considered in a single chapter. Theories on systems of innovation, however, offer a conceptual strategy particularly pertinent for understanding the European case of food biotechnology, and two versions of this theory are principally relatable: (1) national particularities are emphasized in the version known as national systems of innovation (NSI); (2) technological interdependencies are considered essential for system formation in technology systems (TS) theory. Their different answers to the question of how innovations may benefit...

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