Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters
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Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters

Cases and Policies

Edited by Charlie Karlsson

The role of innovations and clusters has increasingly dominated local and regional development policies in recent decades. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers important aspects of high-tech clusters, analyses insightful cluster case studies, and provides a number of recommendations for cluster policies.
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Chapter 23: From Biotechnology Clusters to Bioscience Megacentres: Related Variety and Economic Geography

Philip Cooke


Philip Cooke Changes in epistemology in biosciences are generating important spatial effects. The most notable of these is the emergence of a few ‘Bioscience Megacentres’ of basic and applied bioscience (molecular, post-genomic, proteomics and so on), medical and clinical research, biotechnology research, training in these and related fields, academic entrepreneurship and commercial exploitation by clusters of ‘drug discovery’ start-up and spinoff companies, along with specialist venture capital and other innovation system support services. Large pharmaceutical firms that used to lead such knowledge generation and exploitation processes are becoming increasingly dependent upon innovative drug solutions produced in such clusters, and megacentres are now the predominant source of such commercial knowledge. ‘Big pharma’ is seldom at the heart of megacentres such as those the chapter will argue are found in about four locations, each in the USA and Europe, but remains important for some risk capital (‘milestone payments’), marketing and distribution of drugs discovered. The embedding of these processes also creates major, new, regional disparities, which some regional governances have recognized, causing them to develop responsibilities for regional science policy and funding to offset spatial biases intrinsic in traditional national (and in the EU, supranational) research funding regimes. Responses follow a variety of models, ranging from market following to both regionalized (decentralizing by the centre) and ‘regionalist’ (ground-up); in each case the role of megacentres is justified in health terms. But their role in assisting fulfilment of regional economic growth visions is also clearly perceived and pronounced in...

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