Dynamics of New Industrial Knowledge Flows
Edited by Philip Cooke, Carla De Laurentis, Stewart MacNeill and Chris Collinge
Chapter 4: Comparative Analysis of Selected European Biotechnology Platforms
Philip Cooke, Carla De Laurentis, Robert Kaiser and Michael Liecke 4.1 INTRODUCTION In this chapter a new knowledge-based theorization of economic geography is worked out, utilizing a variety of economic indicators regarding the medical biotechnology sector and bioscientific knowledge metrics. It will be shown that biotechnology has proved something of a pioneer sector that other industries emulate for its innovative industry organization. The medical biotechnology sector is only one of the bioscientific ‘family’ that together account for a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP) in the advanced countries, and a growing share in countries like India and China. Agro-food biotechnology has another significant share of many national GDP accounts, while environmental and energy biotechnology are of rising importance. Within such sectors, subsectors like bioprocessing,1 bioengineering, bioinformatics, bioimaging and so on are also growing in significance in certain regional economies. It is a sciencedriven, knowledge-intensive and widely applicable group of interacting platforms that are already evolving certain pervasive characteristics for different functions, including health and safety testing and standardization (bioanalysis), civil and military security (DNA fingerprinting, biometrics) and applications in mechanical, electronic and civil engineering (nanobiotechnology), rather as information and communication technology (ICT) became pervasive during the 1990s. To that extent they have the character of platform technologies and even general-purpose technologies (GPTs) as discussed by inter alia Helpman (1998). Traditional natural resource-based theories in economic geography explained the microeconomics of agglomerative economic activity relatively well. However, knowledge-based economic growth is less easy to explain and predict, although there...
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