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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 9: Emergent Bioinformatics and Newly Distributed Innovation Processes

Andrew McMeekin, Mark Harvey and Sally Gee


Andrew McMeekin, Mark Harvey and Sally Gee 1. INTRODUCTION Although bioinformatics was recognized as a potentially revolutionary approach towards biology as early as 1968 (Ryback 1968, 1978), the application of computational methods to digitalized biological data has only begun to have a major impact across the whole area of bioscience and biotechnology in the last decade or so. With the genomics and now postgenomics revolutions in biology, attention has been increasingly focused on how the newly generated data can be stored, managed, analysed and ultimately used to improve innovation in the life science industries. It has been this proliferation of data, in quantity and of type, that has brought bioinformatics to prominence. Bioinformatics is a combination of BIOlogy, INFORmation technology and matheMATICS (Hodgman 2002), but there is some debate concerning its specific focus. Straightforward data management technologies and computational biology (involving modelling and simulation of biological problems, in the absence of data) could define the extremes, but there is a myriad of different activities between. It is the proliferation of new techniques and technologies within this space that forms the focus of this chapter. Bioinformatics is at the core of the genomic revolution and therefore centrally involved in the significant uncertainties that are emerging in the foundations of biological understanding. New biological units of analysis have been developed and studied, including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and protein complexes. The precise definition of the gene has been rewritten many times, and is...

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