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Ingredients in the Early Development of the U.S. Biotechnology Industry

Martha Prevezer
Small Business Economics
Vol. 17, No. 1/2, Special Issue: Biotechnology in Comparative Perspective – Regional Concentration and Industry Dynamics (Aug. - Sep., 2001), pp. 17-29
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40229167
Page Count: 13
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Ingredients in the Early Development of the U.S. Biotechnology Industry
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Abstract

This paper explores the ingredients that stimulated the development of the biotechnology industry in the US and contrasts conditions with those in Europe. It examines relationships between established firms and new start-ups; the financing and managerial environment and the organizational environment, whereby firms were able to set up networks of alliances. Its main findings are that: 1) The funding of the medical science research base has been substantially more generous in the U. S. than Europe. It is the funding of the science base rather than of the biotechnology industry directly that has provided the foundations for start-ups to be created out of the science base. 2) It has been easier for U.S. academics to found start-ups, close to their research establishment, and to retain their academic posts and status as well as be involved in a commercial enterprise. In Europe, the scientific/academic and commercial worlds have a wider divide. 3) Start-ups have been concentrated in the therapeutics and agricultural fields, with strong scientific research inputs into their commercialization, in contrast to other sectors where downstream processing innovations have been more important, which have been undertaken in- house by the large incumbent companies. 4) Financing and managerial conditions have been significantly easier in the U.S. for start-ups, in terms of access to venture capital specialising in high technology, ability to use the stock market to raise capital, and access to people able to forge links between scientists and entrepreneurs, and to introduce managerial expertise into new companies. 5) There has been a greater facility in the U.S. than in Europe for alliances to be formed between incumbent companies and indigenous U.S. start-ups; European start-ups have not found similar backing from European incumbent companies.

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