Edited by Roger Sugden, Rita Hartung Cheng and G. Richard Meadows
Chapter 8: Why do biotechnical firms cluster? Some possible explanations
8. Why do biotechnology firms cluster? Some possible explanations Stuart O. Schweitzer and Marco R. Di Tommaso* 1. INTRODUCTION Industrial history shows us how firms have always been unequally distributed geographically. In all industrial periods, firms have been sensitive to specific factors that have favoured one location instead of another. In other words, firms are not indifferent to geography and have always had their set of preferences in this strategic field. The aggregate result of single firm localisation choices is that, if firms are attracted by similar factors that can be found in one location and not in another, they will tend to cluster in those specific geographic areas. The focus of this chapter is to study the reasons for clustering in the relatively new high-technology sectors, including biotechnology. Cities like Manchester, Lyon and Detroit in the last centuries, or more recently areas like Shanghai, Dublin, or San Francisco, have shown superior capacity, both to attract existing firms and to ÔincubateÕ new ones. It was in those places, and not in other locations, that particular industrialisation processes occurred. Geography clearly matters because each place has always been associated with special abilities to attract new firms and start new ones. The earliest industrial agglomerations typically could be understood in terms of location of natural resources. Some firms located close to the water, as it represented one of the first sources of energy. Steel refineries tended to cluster near sources of raw materials, such as coal or iron ore. In other cases,...
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