Chapter 3: From Human Insulin to Oncomice: Patterns of Innovation in Industrialised Countries
Page 32 3— From Human Insulin to Oncomice: Patterns of Innovation in Industrialised Countries 3.1— Introduction The establishment of biotechnology as a commercially viable set of techniques has taken place most rapidly in countries that are industrialised, i.e., in countries of North America, Europe and in Japan. The early commercialisation of biotechnology took place because of scientific breakthroughs in the 1970s and considerable risks taken by entrepreneurs and scientists to prove the viability of the new techniques. Once the potential of the technology was recognised, several governments put together national plans and policies to encourage and enable the commercialisation and diffusion of the new techniques. Patterns of innovation in biotechnology in industrialised countries, however, show considerable differences and gaps between countries. This chapter examines patterns of development of biotechnology in industrialised countries in order to determine the successes and failures of different development paths; and whether developing and industrialising countries still in the process of defining appropriate national priorities for biotechnology can learn valuable lessons from the experiences of industrialised countries. 3.2— Biotechnology Policies and Research in the Industrialised Countries The late 1970s and especially the early 1980s brought with them many changes relating to issues of technological change and its implications for Page 33 competitiveness in certain sectors. The apparent decline of traditional industries such as textiles and clothing was a result of the challenge from the newly industrialising countries of Asia and other developing countries and changing patterns of comparative advantage. Older, labour intensive industries became increasingly uncompetitive...
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