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

Postgraduate Course: Analysis and Shaping of the Bioeconomy (PGSP11425)

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 Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course provides an introduction to the origins of the bioeconomy, its conceptual foundations, and the new science and technology that is driving it. Topics include definitions of the bioeconomy, the evolution of the life science industries, the economic impacts on countries and regions, and the role of public stakeholders. The course draws on Innogens unique approach to the study of life sciences from a systemic perspective; drawing on the concept of an innovation ecosystem (which comprises multiple business models, value chains and external enablers and constraints).
Course description This course provides an introduction to the concept of the bioeconomy (including agriculture, health, energy, environmental and manufacturing bioscience), its conceptual foundations, and the new areas of science and technology that are driving it. Topics include definitions of the bioeconomy, the evolution and regulation of the life science industries, the economic impacts on countries and regions, and the numerous different roles of stakeholders. The bioeconomy is based on a framework of using natural resources more wisely and efficiently and working with rather than against natural systems to achieve both societal and economic goals.
The course introduces the Innogen Institute's interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of life science and related innovation systems, considering the range of businesses involved, their business models and the value chains to which they contribute. It sets these in the context of the innovation ecosystem which comprises the external enablers and constraints acting on these business models and value chains, including for example, regulation, policy, stakeholders, intellectual property issues, markets. These interactions will ultimately determine which new products and processes are able to succeed economically, and crucially which industry sectors are able to thrive in a global bio-economy and which nations and regions will succeed in a globally competitive environment. Equally important, given the environmental and societal challenges we face today, our ability to manage these interactions will play a role in determining the extent to which the bio-economy is able to contribute to meeting these challenges.

Outline Content

1. This session explores the basic concepts underlying the bioeconomy and its policy and strategic foundations. We explain what these policy foundations mean in practice for the various 'colours' of biotechnology - red, green, white and blue, and also how other technologies, for example based on stem cells and synthetic biology, are increasingly converging to deliver potential solutions to societal problems.
2. This session introduces the Innogen Institute Framework for analysis of life science innovation systems and its use in support of innovation in life sciences across a broad range of sectors. It describes its origins and demonstrates its broad applicability to analysis of the interactions between (i) company business strategies and innovation development pathways, (ii) policies/regulatory systems and innovation, and (iii) stakeholder perspectives.
3. This session focuses on the company perspective, covering a broad range of life science-related sectors, and focusing on the opportunities and some of the difficulties faced by companies, large and small, in developing innovative technologies in life science-related areas. It considers the factors and interactions giving rise to innovation-related problems and what companies can do to mitigate them.
4. This session covers the regulations that apply to life science-based technologies, how these have evolved and their impact on current innovation strategies in life science companies. It also considers the future trends for different technology sectors, particularly to attempt to make regulatory systems more supportive of innovation processes while retaining the emphasis on safety and efficacy.
5. The nature and focus of stakeholder perspectives and of the engagement processes adopted have taken very different forms in different technology sectors. This session explores these differences and the reasons for them, including how we interpret and cope with the uncertainty involved in all areas of innovation.

The course, which has no prerequisites, is delivered through a 5-week lecture and seminar discussion format. The two-hour sessions will typically consist of a short lecture (introducing the key themes of the week's topic and the core readings provided), followed by an hour and a quarter of classroom discussion and/or student-led presentations. Each week's class will typically cover conceptual, theoretical and empirical material related to the topic. Discussion with staff and with others on the course is a key element in learning.
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. Critical Knowledge and understanding of the key definitions, theories and history of the bioeconomy in a global context
  2. Extensive and detailed understanding of the different innovation sectors 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 innovation ecosystems and ecology.
  4. Ability to use their knowledge and understanding to identify emerging socio-economic trends in the bioeconomy
  5. The skills to analyse the size and contribution of the bioeconomy to the European Economic Area, and an awareness of competitor regions and countries.
Reading List
Arundel, A. V., B. van Beuzekom, and I. Gillespie (2007) Defining biotechnology - carefully. Trends in biotechnology 25 (8):331-332. [Ejournal]

BIS (2013) Strategy for UK Life Sciences One Year On available at

Coriat, B., Orsi, F., and Weinstein, O. (2003) Does biotech reflect a new science-based innovation regime? Industry and Innovation 10(3):231-253. [Ejournal]

Nightingale, P and Martin P. (2004) The myth of the biotech revolution. TRENDS in Biotechnology 22(11):564-569. [Ejournal

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.

Tait, J. (2007) Systemic Interactions in Life Science Innovation. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 19(3):257-277. [Ejournal]

Tait, J. and Barker, G., (2011) Global food security and the governance of modern biotechnologies: opportunities and challenges for Europe EMBO Reports 12:763-768. (

Tait, J. with Wield, D., Chataway, J. and Bruce. A. (2008) Health Biotechnology to 2030. Report to OECD International Futures Project, ¿The Bio-Economy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda¿, OECD, Paris, pp 51;

Wield, D. (2013) Bioeconomy and the global economy: industrial policies and bio-innovation. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 25(10):1209-1221. [EJournal]

Wield, D., Hanlin, R., Mittra, J. and Smith, J. (2013) Twenty-first century bioeconomy: global challenges of biological knowledge for health and agriculture. Science and Public Policy 40(1):17¿24. [EJournal]
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Joyce Tait
Tel: (0131 6)50 9174
Course secretaryMr Dave Nicol
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485
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