At the workshop other researchers described a series of studies that have examined, among other aspects of the development of industrial biotechnology, the following phenomena

  • the contribution of basic research conducted in universities, government laboratories, and some large companies to the formation of new start-ups;

  • tendencies not only to regional concentration of firms but also to regional specialization in certain types of biotechnology products or services;

  • how scientists and engineers are employed within firms, not only in management and research but also in a variety of other functions such as quality assurance, regulatory compliance, and manufacturing design;

  • how people with scientific and technical training populate service functions external to the biotechnology companies—venture capital, law, investment banking, and accounting firms;

  • how biotechnology developments depend on informal networks of professionals that cut across public and private research and the nonprofit sector and that in some cases arise among graduate students and postdoctoral students before they become involved in entrepreneurial activity;

  • the high degree of mobility and cross-fertilization among firms; and

  • the feedback to university research via industry funding that tends to be associated with higher faculty productivity, albeit at some cost in openness of research.

Biotechnology in Maryland

Maryann Feldman of Johns Hopkins University presented her study of the genesis and evolution of the biotechnology industry in Maryland since the earliest firms were established in the early 1970s. Maryland is home to the third or fourth highest concentration of biotech firms in the United States. Feldman conducted her research by pulling together midrodata from a number of sources. She found 240 firms, 40 of them publicly traded. The median size is 14 employees; the mean size is just over 50 employees.

By finding out where the founders were employed before starting a firm, she discovered that most were spun off from large supplier firms, such as Litton Bionetics, Life Technologies, Inc., and Bethesda Research Labs, Inc., rather than universities. Those founded by academics were more likely to be from leading universities outside Maryland. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the National Institutes of Health

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