The COVID-19 pandemic clearly illustrates the continuing important role of the biotechnology sector in medical progress. In particular, the German biotechnology sector has shown itself to be a pioneer in combating the virus and is highly involved in the development of test methods, therapeutics and vaccines. However, discoveries within biotechnology also have great significance regardless of the pandemic. For example, CRISPR-Cas technology, developed in the last decade, greatly simplifies the targeted mutation of genetic material and has the potential, among other things, to significantly accelerate breeding processes of animals and plants.

The aim of this project was to deepen knowledge about the design of innovation policy instruments used so far in the biotechnology sector in order to improve the promotion of innovation capacity and growth of biotechnology companies. The focus of our research here was on spatial cluster support, which is applied in a large number of countries. The frequent application of this funding stems in particular from the perceived advantages of spatial proximity: (i) it is said to increase formal and informal knowledge sharing among cluster members, (ii) it is said to increase opportunities for cluster members to learn together, and (iii) it is said to make it easier to share available resources.

While most of the theoretical arguments for cluster promotion have been known since the 1920s, empirical research on the relative importance of the various benefits of spatial clusters is still evolving. Also, the empirical research to date on the impact of cluster promotion is inconclusive, and its results differ depending on the country under consideration. To deepen our understanding of the various benefits of cluster funding, we first conducted an online survey of German and Austrian biotechnology companies. Using this, we assessed the extent to which biotechnology cluster membership and the different types of support that come with it are associated with different innovation activities of companies. Furthermore, a regression analysis should quantify to what extent different German cluster initiatives affect the economic and innovative development of biotechnology companies.

The visualization of the fields of activity of biotechnology companies according to cluster membership can be found here.

Selected Publications