Knowledge Diversity in the Emerging Global Bio-Nano Sector

14 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2010 Last revised: 10 Jan 2014

See all articles by Elicia Maine

Elicia Maine

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Management of Technology; Simon Fraser University - Policy Analysis

Martin J. Bliemel

Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation

Armstrong Murira

Independent

James Utterback

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: April 24, 2012

Abstract

Great opportunities and radical innovation are most likely to occur at the convergence of two or more technology streams. A bio-nano sector is emerging from such a convergence and may eventually provide radical innovation and new dominant firms. As there are no comprehensive reviews on this emerging sector, this paper provides a descriptive overview, identifying what types of firms are entering, from what knowledge base, where they are located, and their strategic choices in terms of technological diversity, R&D strategy, business model, and areas of clinical focus.

The firms engaged in bio-nano research and development span the range from start-up firm to multinational pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical, and electronics firms: three quarters of bio-nano firms are relatively young and relatively small. The United States dominates this sector, with more than half of all bio-nano firms located in the USA. Even within this sector which epitomizes the convergence of technology, there is a broad range of technological diversity, with the most diverse firms overall coming from a base in electronics, the most diverse start-up firms coming from a base in nanomaterials, and the most narrowly focused firms coming from a biotechnology/pharmaceutical base. We compare firm size with R&D strategy. The smaller firms have less diverse patent portfolios and are more likely to follow a hybridization knowledge diversity strategy, while the larger firms have more diverse patent portfolios and more widespread use of a juxtaposition R&D strategy.

Keywords: knowledge diversity, biotechnology, nanotechnology, technology convergence, radical innovation, emerging technology sector, hybridization, juxtaposition

Suggested Citation

Maine, Elicia M.A. and Bliemel, Martin J and Murira, Armstrong and Utterback, James M., Knowledge Diversity in the Emerging Global Bio-Nano Sector (April 24, 2012). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4963-12, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1672506 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1672506

Elicia M.A. Maine (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Management of Technology ( email )

Segal Graduate School of Business
500 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1W6
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://motresearch.bus.sfu.ca/index.shtml

Simon Fraser University - Policy Analysis ( email )

Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

Martin J Bliemel

Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation ( email )

15 Broadway, Ultimo
PO Box 123
Sydney, NSW 2007
Australia

Armstrong Murira

Independent ( email )

James M. Utterback

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E52-541
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2661 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

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