By nature, the biotech industry is a knowledge and R&D intensive industry, one in which new products and innovations develop at the interface between electronics, information technology, biomedicine, and drug discovery. This innovation generally results from the interaction between firms, public and private research organizations, financial institutions, governmental organizations, institutions for collaboration, and specialized services companies. Much of this interaction occurs within a localized geographical setting, often described as a cluster or a regional innovation system, in which the potential for intensified face-to-face interactions, short cognitive distance, a common language, trustful relations between various actors, easy observations, and immediate comparisons enhance the processes of interactive learning and innovation. As a result, numerous regions across the globe are implementing initiatives designed to improve their competitiveness through increasing the ability of their regional organizations to interact and innovate.
One such initiative is Uppsala BIO – the Life Science Initiative, a regional initiative in Uppsala, Sweden created by local representatives from government, industry, and academia. To fulfill its purpose, Uppsala BIO has chosen to use its resources to primarily support and collaborate with other regional actors who initiate, run, and most importantly, own various development activities. Examples of these activities include 1) promoting cross-disciplinary biotech research with a strong product focus through the establishment of a cross-disciplinary research center, 2) strengthening the region’s innovation system through activities such as the development of an incubator to provide operative support for the commercialization of research findings, 3) ensuring the longterm supply of relevant competence to the region, and 4) improving the region’s visibility both nationally and internationally in order to attract investment and competence. Uppsala BIO received considerable government and local funding by Swedish standards in the second half of 2003, and the purpose of this chapter is to describe the activities of this initiative during its first 18 months as well as to present some reflections gathered through a longitudinal study of this initiative. Thus, this chapter is relevant to both practitioners and policy makers involved in regional initiatives as well as researchers working to understand the dynamics of such initiatives.
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 2005. , 30 p.