Informations and abstract
Keywords: Industrial Policy; Biotechnology; Industrial Evolution; Science-Based Industries.
This essay argues that policies attempting to develop the biotechnology industry around the world have shared the attempt to reproduce the model which I label the «Silicon Valley Consensus». This model is a (partial) application of the successful case of microelectronics to a different industry, which is quintessentially science-based. It is based on three pillars: the commercialization of scientific research, a strong intellectual property rights regime and venture capital. The results of this approach are not unambiguously successful. It has proved remarkably difficult to replicate elsewhere a model resting on a set of institutional specificities that are unique to the US context. Moreover, other variables may have been even more important. First, the sheer scale and scope of research: absolute excellence in scientific research spanning a differentiated but integrated spectrum of areas. Second, the US superiority in the life sciences derives to a significant extent from the amount of public funding to biomedical research. Further, it is increasingly questioned whether the model is actually efficient. These observations suggest the need for a different approach, which promotes longer term, more cumulative and integrated research; more stable and patient sources of finance; and a more reasonable intellectual property rights regime.