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European Planning Studies Vol. 15, No. 6, July 2007

The Geography of Knowledge Transfer and Innovation in Biotechnology: The Cases of Scotland, Sweden and Denmark1
ESRC Innogen Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

[Received January 2006; accepted May 2006]

ABSTRACT This paper addresses themes at the heart of policy debates on innovation systems and concentrates on the process of progressive transformation that has been affecting the therapeutic and diagnostic sectors as a result of the application of molecular biology. The focus is on the relationship between firms’ locational choices, innovation policy and industrial dynamics. The issue of knowledge transfer is explored and the discussion addresses the theoretical controversy between two contrasting approaches: while some describe open networks and collaboration as means of enhancing competences for learning, others argue that, as intellectual assets are protected by property rights, knowledge adheres to specific locations mainly as a consequence of scientists’ immobility. Then it is assessed whether knowledge transfer, in its different forms, is prevalently local or tends to occur on a global scale. Finally, the perceived effectiveness of some policy measures directed to enhance connectivity among players holding complementary knowledges is examined. Countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Scotland, who have pioneered the implementation of cluster thinking in Europe, provides an ideal setting to conduct this empirical study.

The Advent of Molecular Biology and the Emergence of Bio-clusters In recent years, the application of molecular biology to the discovery of new solutions for patient healthcare has caused substantial modifications in industrial practices and the emergence of new organizational forms. Public research organizations (PROs) such as universities and medical schools and hospitals are responsible for an increasing number of scientific advances into the...

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