Innovation, Regional Development and the Life Sciences: Beyond clusters, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Innovation, Regional Development and the Life Sciences

Beyond clusters, 1st Edition

By Kean Birch


148 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138807617
pub: 2016-08-22
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pub: 2016-10-14
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The life sciences is an industrial sector that covers the development of biological products and the use of biological processes in the production of goods, services and energy. This sector is frequently presented as a major opportunity for policy-makers to upgrade and renew regional economies, leading to social and economic development through support for high-tech innovation.

Innovation, Regional Development and the Life Sciences analyses where innovation happens in the life sciences, why it happens in those places, and what this means for regional development policies and strategies. Focusing on the UK and Europe, its arguments are relevant to a variety of countries and regions pursuing high-tech innovation and development policies. The book’s theoretical approach incorporates diverse geographies (e.g. global, national and regional) and political-economic forces (e.g. discourses, governance and finance) in order to understand where innovation happens in the life sciences, where and how value circulates in the life sciences, and who captures the value produced in life sciences innovation.

This book will be of interest to researchers, students and policy-makers dealing with regional/local economic development.


'In this concise and lucid book, Kean Birch takes us on a fascinating tour of the political economy of the UK’s life sciences sector. The complex geographies of knowledge, innovation, finance and policy discourse that constitute the life sciences are skillfully disentangled in a constructively critical reading of the regional development potential of a widely discussed growth industry.' — Neil M. Coe, National University of Singapore, Singapore

'It is probably an understatement that this book takes the debate about innovation, life sciences and regional development beyond clusters. Kean Birch meticulously scrutinizes the knowledge based bio-economy in an impressive way by problematizing various ‘myths’ of Life Science clusters. He debunks the allegedly localized knowledge-space of such clusters and, perhaps more importantly, raises critical questions about the value of such clusters for regional development. In doing so, the book provides an inspiring and rare contribution that transcends the divide between studies focusing on the geographies of innovation, on the one hand, and political economies of life sciences on the other.' — Lars Coenen, Professor in Innovation Studies, CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden

'Clear and sharp scrutiny of the novel pulses of modernisation disrupting and inflecting regional economies and their evolutionary trajectories. In Innovation, Life Sciences and Regional Development, Kean Birch provides a tight and thoughtful political economy of the potential and pitfalls of emergent economic activities and their territorial development paths.' — Andy Pike, Henry Daysh Professor of Regional Development Studies, Director at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University, UK

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction: Knowledge economies everywhere!

Chapter 2: Innovation, clusters and knowledge-based commodity chains

Chapter 3: Innovation geographies in the UK life sciences

Chapter 4: Innovation governance in the Scottish life sciences

Chapter 5: Innovation imaginaries in the European life sciences

Chapter 6: Innovation financing in the global life sciences

Chapter 7: Conclusion: Innovation and regional development for whom?

About the Author

Kean Birch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University, Canada.

About the Series

Regions and Cities

In today’s globalised, knowledge-driven and networked world, regions and cities have assumed heightened significance as the interconnected nodes of economic, social and cultural production, and as sites of new modes of economic governance and policy experimentation. This book series brings together incisive and critically engaged international and interdisciplinary research on this resurgence of regions and cities, and should be of interest to geographers, economists, sociologists, political scientists and cultural scholars, as well as to policy-makers involved in regional and urban development.

If you would like to discuss a potential new book for the series, please contact:

Joan Fitzgerald – [email protected] – Series Editor-in-Chief, or

Natalie Tomlinson – [email protected] – Routledge Commissioning Editor

For more information on the Regional Studies Association, visit


Did you know that as a Regional Studies Association member you’re entitled to a 30% discount on all Routledge books? To order, simply email Luke McNicholas ([email protected]), or phone on +44 (0) 20 701 77545 and declare your RSA membership.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Business Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
SCIENCE / Biotechnology