Innovation capacity in the healthcare sector and historical anchors: examples from the UK, Switzerland and the US

Helen Lawton Smith, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Laurel Edmunds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Innovation is an integral part of economic development in developed economies. In the post 2008 period, a key policy agenda is that of sustainable development, which calls for innovation in all aspects of value-chains. In this paper, we focus on innovation from the biotech—pharma perspective to see whether or not this will lead to a sustainable future for the regions where there are clusters of firms in this sector. We examine data from a recently completed European Union study of innovation in the Healthcare sector from the UK and Switzerland, countries with an historical base in pharma, to understand how innovation pathways vary at the regional level in the broader life sciences, which incorporate biotech and more. Innovation in the healthcare sector in two regions, Oxfordshire in the UK and Zurich in Switzerland are compared. We contextualize our discussion by drawing on studies that focus on the sector in the US, specifically Boston. The analytical framework comprises three elements: innovation systems and national and regional economic development theories are the first two, followed by approaches which consider organizational or institutional activity. This framework is used to help explain and understand the complexity of how innovation is organized at the sub-national level. The overall context is that it is increasing becoming a condition for government financing of research that it has more immediate application in industry or have the possibility of commercialisation (e.g., translational research).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1420-1439
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biotech
  • Boston
  • Innovation
  • Oxfordshire
  • Regional development
  • Zurich

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting
  • General Engineering


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