The Biotechnology System in Oxfordshire: A Long History

The Biotechnology System in Oxfordshire: A Long History

Helen Lawton Smith (Birkbeck University of London, UK & Oxford University, UK) and Saverio Romeo (Birkbeck University of London, UK & Oxford University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8348-8.ch012
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

This chapter aims to bring together an understanding of the dynamics of the growth of sectoral systems and of their performance. These two approaches are combined to examine the evolution over time of the biotechnology system of innovation in Oxfordshire in the South East of the UK. It addresses the research questions of what are the key features of this local sectoral system and what are local strengths and weaknesses? A European Union FP7 HealthTies project (2011-13) has been a key source of data for this chapter.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Research on systems on the evolution of systems of innovation from a geographic perspective has taken off since Philip Cooke’s early work on regional system of innovation (Cooke, 1992, 1998) which had its origins in national systems of innovation (e.g. Lundvall, 1992Nelson, 1992). This has been driven both by advances in theoretical analysis, and by the need for new policies to address regional inequalities and divergence (Asheim et. al. 2011). Another stream of literature on systems with a strong focus on sectors is that of sectoral systems of innovation (see for example Carlsson and Stankiewicz, 1991, Carlsson et al. 2002, Malerba, 2002, 2005).

Both of them aim to assess the dynamics and the performance of a system under scrutiny through a number of metrics. This paper aims to bring together the two approaches looking at the evolution over time of the biotechnology system of innovation in Oxfordshire in the South East of the UK. Literature on systems of innovation highlights how a rich, dynamic, and interconnected environment of different players – government, academia, and businesses – is the precondition of a high-performance system. This paper starts from the assumption that the Oxfordshire & the Thames Valley system is a rich, dynamic and interconnected system. Based on this assumption, the paper shows the increasing growth in terms of sectoral performance and of impact on the regional economies of the biotechnology sector over time. However, as we will show, it has its weaknesses. Therefore, it addresses the research questions of what are the key features of this local sectoral system and what are local strengths and weaknesses?

The paper is based on a combination of sources and data from different research projects run by the authors. The European Union FP7 HealthTies project (2010-13) has been a crucial source of data for this paper. The HealthTies consortium aimed to benchmark different European based biotech hubs and draw policy conclusions from that activity1. The main partners were Oxfordshire (& the Thames Valley) plus three other European biotech centres (Medical Delta (Netherlands), Zurich, (Switzerland) and Biocat (Spain). The benchmarking process was supported by the development of a database of biotech companies operating in each region by each partner team. Every company was assessed through key performance indicators such as number of employees, turnover, number of patents in four disease patent classes, and the number and location of offices. The history of each was also analysed looking at historic data of the key performance indicators, but also through a qualitative assessment of the company highlighting key milestones such as merger and acquisition. The paper also relies on other literature and research – some of it undertaken by the authors and the Oxford Economic Observatory (OEO) - that has analysed the biotechnology sector in Oxfordshire since the 1990s2. The paper assesses the longevity and the quality in terms of performance of the system and how these are supported the research base in Oxfordshire.

Key Terms in this Chapter

HealthTIES Project: European Union Framework 7 funded study (2010-2013) of the innovation cycle in the Healthcare sector in key bioscience regions in four core countries Leiden (Netherlands), Oxford, (UK), Barcelona (Spain) and Zurich (Switzerland) along with an emerging region; Debrecen (Hungary).

OBN: Is a membership organisation supporting and bringing together the UK’s emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners and investors. It has 360-plus member companies which are located in the UK’s South East and as far afield as Scotland. Its members benefit from networking, partnering, purchasing, advising and advocacy activities.

National Innovation Systems: Are identified as the flows of technology and information among people, enterprises and institutions and which are key to innovative process at the national level.

Regional Innovation Systems: These are the collections of interactions of economic, social, political and institutional organisations that generate a collective learning process within a related group of technological or functional areas. Interactions encourage the rapid diffusion of knowledge, skills and best practice within a geographic area.

Biotechnology: Is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or “any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use” (UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Art. 2).

Oxfordshire Economic Observatory: a joint venture between Oxford University School of Geography and the Environment and School of Planning, Oxford Brookes University.

Oxfordshire: An English county of a population of 635,500 (2014). It is the most rural county in the South East. Its population is amongst the most highly-qualified in the country.

Sectoral Innovation Systems: a set of relationships between key actors and organisations designed to bring products in a particular sector to market.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset