Development of SMEs and heterogeneity of trajectories: the case of biotechnology in France
Biotechnology is an emergent sector based on the creation of research-intensive Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). While some SMEs are growing, most of them remain small, even those set-up several years ago. What is the pattern of development of the biotech sector? What are the patterns of development of firms? Studies on the development of high-tech SMEs have focused on a business model, in which entrepreneurs rely on growth forecasts to persuade capital investors (business angels and venture capitalists) to invest in a radical innovation project. Firms aim for a world market to industrialise their innovation, and initial public offering (IPO) enables initial investors to make profits that offset risky initial investment. While this model is appealing, it is simply one of the possible models of biotechnology development. Some firms are not designed to experience exponential growth, and choose to target local markets. Moreover, not all firms have the ambition of being listed on the stock exchange. Based on an in-depth analysis of the business and development of 60 French biotech SMEs, this article identifies two business models. By defining the development trajectories of each of these models, it highlights the temporary nature of the emergent model.
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