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The Bioeconomy to 2030

Designing a Policy Agenda

image of The Bioeconomy to 2030

The biological sciences are adding value to a host of products and services, producing what some have labelled the “bioeconomy” and offering the potential to make major socio-economic contributions in OECD countries.  Using quantitative analyses of data on development pipelines and R&D expenditures from private and public databases, this book estimates biotechnological developments to 2015. Moving to a broader institutional view, it also looks at the roles of R&D funding, human resources, intellectual property, and regulation in the bioeconomy, as well as at possible developments that could influence emerging business models to create scenarios to 2030. These scenarios are included to stimulate reflection on the interplay between policy choices and technological advances in shaping the bioeconomy. Finally, the book explores policy options to support the social, environmental and economic benefits of a bioeconomy.

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The Business of the Emerging Bioeconomy

Social, economic and technological factors will create new business opportunities for biotechnology, requiring new types of business models. The main business models to date have been the small, dedicated biotechnology firm (DBF) that specialises in research and sells knowledge to large firms, and the large integrated firm that performs R&D and manufactures and distributes products. This structure characterises the health sector. In primary production, gene modification technology has created economies of scope and scale that have driven rapid corporate concentration. Only a few DBFs have been active in industrial biotechnology, as profitability depends on the ability to scale up production. This requires specialised engineering knowledge and large capital investment. This chapter identifies two business models that could emerge in the future: collaborative models for sharing knowledge and reducing research costs, and integrator models to create and maintain markets. Collaborative models are relevant to all application areas. Their adoption, combined with new business opportunities for non-food biomass crops, could revitalise DBFs in primary production and in industry. Integrator models could develop in health biotechnology to manage the complexity of predictive and preventive medicine, based on biomarkers, pharmacogenetics, shrinking markets for individual drugs, and the analysis of complex health databases. 

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