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How organizational structures in science shape spin-off firms: the biochemistry departments of Berkeley, Stanford, and UCSF and the birth of the biotech industry

Listed author(s):
  • Simcha Jong

This article examines how the organizational capabilities of academic spin-off firms in new industries are shaped by the organization of the research communities in universities from which these spin-off firms emerge. Contrasting the organization of research in the biochemistry departments of the University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley), Stanford University (Stanford), and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and key biotech firms spun-off from these departments, this article attempts to explain the central role UCSF scientists played in comparison with their Berkeley and Stanford counterparts, in the formation and development of the biotech industry in the San Francisco region during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is demonstrated how the research environment at UCSF during this period positioned UCSF scientists comparatively well to identify in the context of their research new technological opportunities in therapeutic product markets and pursue these opportunities in the industrial research environment of the biotech industry. Finally, drawing parallels between this study on the role of UCSF in the formation of the San Francisco biotech industry and other studies on the role of Stanford in the formation of the Silicon Valley high-tech electronics industry, this article attempts to infer some general insights into the institutional dynamics that give rise to new science-based industries. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Industrial and Corporate Change.

Volume (Year): 15 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 251-283

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Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:15:y:2006:i:2:p:251-283
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