Successful Innovation Requires Collaboration
The case studies confirmed that successful innovation requires widespread collaboration. China's lack of collaboration prevented its scientists from being the first in the world to sequence the severe acquired respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus.
Brazil and Egypt have also been hindered by a lack of linkages, especially between universities and industry. Those countries' success to date has been the result of strong individuals playing pioneering roles in their health biotechnology development. Despite the value of strong individual leadership, a systemic approach is likely to be more sustainable in the long run, says Halla Thorsteinsdttir, D.Phil, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and the study's co-ordinator.
To overcome this, most countries have or are promoting clusters in health biotechnology to support collaboration. Examples include South Korea's Daeduk Science Town, India's Genome Valley, and Cuba's West Havana Scientific Pole.
"Countries that encourage close linkages of research, business, policy, health institutions and other actors in the field and ensure an active knowledge flow among them have been the most successful," says Dr. Thorsteinsdttir.
Specialization Produces Cost-effective Results
Focusing on a niche area is yet another successful strategy the study found. Recombinant vaccines are relatively easy to reproduce and can be much more cost-effective way to deal with infectious diseases than drugs. India, for example, is developing vaccines for hepatitis B and C as well as South Africa HIV/AIDS.
"With limited resources and underdeveloped private sectors, targeting specific areas that
Contact: Juliet Heller
University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics