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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Foundations of the Bioeconomy (PGSP11333)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe sectors of the economy that are based on bioscience and biotechnology innovation comprise the bio-based economy or bioeconomy. The bioeconomy can be defined in terms of its scientific and technological base, and can include industrial production of goods and provision of various services. In these terms, the bioeconomy includes agriculture, health and environmental bioscience, biotechnology applications in the same fields and all of the related science like informatics in research or GIS supported remote sensing in precision agriculture.
Bioeconomy also refers to a set of concepts, and sometimes aspirations, about the way that the economy should be organized. In this respect, the bioeconomy links to various systems perspectives about innovation, but ones that have overtones of ecosystems thinking. Bioeconomy in this respect looks at the entire framework of using natural resources more wisely and efficiently, working with rather than against natural systems to achieve social goals, understanding human biology through genomics and genetics and drawing implications for health prevention and treatment of disease, and other aspirations with respect to the creation of products and services and the management of externalities including the potential for zero-waste society. As a result, the bioeconomy often makes use of lifecycle approaches to systems of innovation as well as how economies are developed and directed.

Generally the bioeconomy is considered a growth economy, subject to what is included in the calculation. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) attributes nearly 6% of the EU GDP to the bioeconomy, and in 2009 the European Commission reported the European bioeconomy was worth in excess of 2 trillion Euros and accounted for 20 million jobs. High-value eco-innovations account for roughly half of the bioeconomy's contribution to GDP, and contribute approximately a quarter of the bioeconomy labour force. Growth in eco-innovation, particularly in value-added primary production, biofuels and marine resource blue-biotechnologies, are expected to continue an impressive 10 percent per annum growth.

The aim of this course is to familiarize students to different facets of the bioeconomy. These include the origins of the bioeconomy the different scientific and technological determinants of the contemporary bioeconomy, the status of the sometimes lauded, sometimes decried biotechnology revolution, the sustainability paradigms that are associated with the bioeconomy, the growth of biobusiness, and the economic impact on countries and regions. The foundations of the bioeconomy will also include the role of citizens as co-creators of social innovation, and the geography of innovation and human resources.

This course requires no prior knowledge of the area.
Course description Week Date Topic
1 September 19 Origins of the bioeconomy
2 September 26 Bioscience and biotechnological innovation
3 October 3 Emergence of the global bioeconomy
4 October 10 The European bioeconomy and the United Kingdom
5 October 17 Bioeconomy: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
6 October 24 Government and governance
7 October 31 Intellectual property and knowledge networks and markets
8 November 7 Industrial organisation and strategy
9 November 14 Big science, government and innovation
10 November 21 Skills, competencies, brain recirculation

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Knowledge and understanding of key definitions and theories about what the bioeconomy means, and where it came from in terms of its being viewed as the sixth wave of innovation.
  2. An extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of the major segments of bioscience and biotechnology innovation that make up the bioeconomy.
  3. A critical awareness of the conceptual underpinnings of the bioeconomy with respect to other areas of theory and knowledge including systems thinking, innovations systems and ecology.
  4. The ability to use their knowledge and understanding to identify and major socio-economic trends including greening of the economy, green washing, skills shortages, brain recirculation.
  5. The skills to identify and analyse the size and contribution of the bioeconomy to the European Economic Area, and an awareness of competitor regions and countries.
Reading List
The required readings are directly tied to each week¿s key objectives and learning outcomes. It is essential that they are read closely and all students will be expected to contribute to discussions around these readings. Additional readings are listed, where appropriate, to provide a broader overview of the topic and will be useful for further reflection and for the assessed coursework. All required readings will be made available on the course Learn or through the journal holdings of the University library. If there are any problems accessing the readings, please contact the course convenor.

Week 1 (Sept 19) Origins of the bioeconomy

OECD. 2001. The Application of Biotechnology to Industrial Sustainability - A Primer. Paris: OECD Publishing.

OECD. 2009. The bioeconomy to 2030: designing a policy agenda. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Week 2 (Sept 26) Bioscience and biotechnological innovation

Hilgartner, Stephen. 2007. Making the Bioeconomy Measurable: Politics of an Emerging Anticipatory Machinery. BioSocieties 2 (03):382-386.

OECD. 2001. The Application of Biotechnology to Industrial Sustainability - A Primer. Paris: OECD Publishing.

OECD. 2009. The Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda. Paris: OECD Publishing.

The White House. 2012. National Bioeconomy Blueprint. Washington D.C.: The White House.

Further Reading

Arundel, A. V., B. van Beuzekom, and I. Gillespie. 2007. Defining biotechnology - carefully. Trends in biotechnology 25 (8):331-332.

Miller, Henry I. 2007. Biotech's defining moments. Trends in biotechnology 25 (2):56-59.

OECD. 2006. OECD Biotechnology Statistics. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Week 3 (Oct 3) Emergence of the global bioeconomy

Leydesdorff, Loet, and Caroline S. Wagner. 2008. International collaboration in science and the formation of a core group. Journal of Informetrics 2 (4):317-325.

Leydesdorff, L. 2012. World Shares of Publications of the USA, EU-27, and China Compared and Predicted Using the New Interface of the Web-of-Science versus Scopus. El profesional de la información 21:43-9.

Lynd, L., R. Aziz, C. de Brito Cruz, A. Chimphango, L. Cortez, A. Faaij, N. Greene, M. Keller, P. Osseweijer, T. Richard, J. Sheehan, A. Chugh, L. van der Wielen, J. Woods, and W. van Zyl. 2011. A global conversation about energy from biomass: the continental conventions of the global sustainable bioenergy project. Interface Focus 1 (2):271-279.

Smyth, S.J., P. Aerni, D. Castle, M. Demon, J.B. Falck-Zepeda, P.W.B. Phillips, R. Paarlberg, C.E. Pray, S. Savastano, J.H.H. Wesseler, and D. Zilberman. 2011. Sustainability and the bioeconomy: synthesis of key themes from the 15th ICABR Conference. AgBioForum 14:180-6.

Wagner, C., and L. Leydesdorff. 2009. Research Funding and Research Output: A Bibliometric Contribution to the US Federal Research Roadmap. SciDevNet.

Week 4 (Oct 10) The European bioeconomy and the United Kingdom

Arundel, A., E. Lorenz, B.-O. Lundvall, and A. Valeyre. 2007. How Europe's economies learn: a comparison of work organization and innovation mode for the EU-15. Industrial and Corporate Change 16 (6):1175-1210.

Acharya, R., A. Arundel, and L. Orsenigo. 1998. The evolution of European biotechnology and its future competitiveness. In Biotechnology and Competitive Advantage: Europe's Firms and the US Challenge. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Birch, Kean. 2009. The knowledge-space dynamic in the UK bioeconomy. Area 41 (3):273-284.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. 2011. Strategy for UK Life Sciences. London: BIS.

European Commission. 2012. Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe. Brussels: European Commission.

Freeman, G. The UK and the Emerging Global Bio-Economy 2012]. Available from

Jenkins, Tom. 2008. Toward a biobased economy: examples from the UK. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 2 (2):133-143.

Week 5 (Oct 17) Bioeconomy: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. 2011. Economic Impact of the Human Genome Project. Columbus, OH.

Gisler, M., D. Sornette, and R. Woodard. 2011. Innovation as a social bubble: The example of the Human Genome Project. Research Policy 40 (10):1412-1425.

Morgan, D. 2006. Regulating the bio-economy. In Globalization and Health, edited by B. Bennett and G. Tomossy. Amsterdam: Springer.

Nature Editorial. 2011. What is the human genome worth? Nature,

Week 6 (Oct 24) Government and governance

Phillips, P.W.B. 2007. Governing Transformative Technological Innovation: Who's in Charge? Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Chapters 5-8.

Week 7 (Oct 31) Intellectual Property and Knowledge Networks and Markets

Castle, D., W.B. Phillips, A. Brown, K. Culver, D. Castrataro, T. Bubela, S. Harmon, G. Dutfield, and P. Barclay. 2010. Knowledge management and the contextualisation of intellectual property rights in innovation systems. SCRIPTed 7:32-50.

Heller, M. A., and R. S. Eisenberg. 1998. Can patents deter innovation? The anticommons in biomedical research. Science 280 (5364):698-701.

Kieff, F.S. 2001. Facilitating scientific research: Intellectual property rights and the norms of science - A response to Rai and Eisenberg. Northwestern University Law Review 95 (2):691-705.

OECD. 2012. Knowledge Networks and Markets in the Life Sciences. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Rai, A. 1999. Regulating sceintfic research: Intellectual property rights and the norms of science. Northwestern University Law Review 94:77-152.

Rai, A. 2001. Evolving scientific norms and intellectual property rights: A reply. Northwestern University Law Review 95:707-13.

Week 8 (Nov 7) Industrial organisation and strategy

Carlson, Robert. 2007. Laying the foundations for a bio-economy. Systems and Synthetic Biology 1 (3):109-117.

Cooke, Philip. 2010. Socio-technical Transitions and Varieties of Capitalism: Green Regional Innovation and Distinctive Market Niches. Journal of the Knowledge Economy 1 (4):239-267.

EC. 2007. Competitiveness of the European Biotechnology Industry. Brussels: EC.

Gertler, Meric S., and Tara Vinodrai. 2009. Life sciences and regional innovation: one path or many? European Planning Studies 17 (2):235-261.

Week 9 (Nov 14) Big science, government, and innovation

Bush, V. 1945. Science, The Endless Frontier.

EC. 2010. The Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) in Europe: Achievements and Challenges. Brussels: EC.

Etzkowitz, Henry. 2006. The new visible hand: An assisted linear model of science and innovation policy. Science and Public Policy 33 (5):310-320.

Weinberg, Alvin M. 1961. Impact of Large-Scale Science on the United States. Science 134 (3473):161-164.

Weinberg, Alvin M. 1965. Scientific choice and biomedical science. Minerva 4 (1):3-14.

Week 10 (Nov 21) Skills, competencies, brain recirculation

Cogent. 2009. Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals: A Future Skills Review with Recommendations to Sustain Growth in Emerging Technologies.

European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). 2010. Skills for green jobs. Briefing Note July 2010: 1-4.

Gazzard, J. 2011. Developing graduate skills for the United Kingdom's commercial life science sector: Experiences from the ORBIS internship programme. J Commer Biotechnol 17 (2):135-50.

Life Sciences Scotland. 2011. Scottish Life Sciences Employer Skills Survey 2010. Edinburgh: Life Sciences Scotland.

OECD. 2011. Skills for Innovation and Research. Paris: OECD Publishing.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ann Bruce
Tel: (0131 6)50 9106
Course secretaryMr Dave Nicol
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485
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