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Intellectual Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises

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  • Lynne G. Zucker
  • Michael R. Darby
  • Marilynn B. Brewer

Abstract

We examine the relationship between the intellectual capital of scientists making frontier discoveries, the presence of great university bioscience programs, the presence of venture capital firms, other economic variables, and the founding of U.S. biotechnology enterprises during 1976-1989. Using a linked cross-section/time- series panel data set, we find that the timing and location of the birth of biotech enterprises is determined primarily by intellectual capital measures, particularly the local number of highly productive 'star' scientists actively publishing genetic sequence discoveries. Great universities are likely to grow and recruit star scientists, but their effect is separable from the universities. When the intellectual capital measures are included in our poisson regressions, the number of venture capital firms in an area reduces the probability of foundings. At least early in the process, star scientists appear to be the scarce, immobile factors of production. Our focus on intellectual capital is related to knowledge spillovers, but in this case 'natural excludability' permits capture of supranormal returns by scientists. Given this reward structure technology transfer was vigorous without any special intermediating structures. We believe biotechnology may be prototypical of the birth patterns in other innovative industries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4653.

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Date of creation: Feb 1994
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, vol. 88, no. 1, March 1998. pp. 290-306
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4653

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  1. Evans, David S, 1987. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 657-74, August.
  2. Michael R. Darby, 1983. "The U.S. Productivity Slowdown: A Case of Statistical Myopia," UCLA Economics Working Papers 304, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  8. Jaffe, A.B. & Trajtenberg, M., 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," Papers 14-92, Tel Aviv.
  9. Hause, John C & Du Rietz, Gunnar, 1984. "Entry, Industry Growth, and the Microdynamics of Industry Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(4), pages 733-57, August.
  10. Bania, Neil & Eberts, Randall W & Fogarty, Michael S, 1993. "Universities and the Startup of New Companies: Can We Generalize from Route 128 and Silicon Valley?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 761-66, November.
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