Developing adaptive capability: the case of Nottingham’s nascent biotechnology sector

Smith, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-7359-8451, Rossiter, W. ORCID: 0000-0002-2199-1136, McDonald-Junor, D. ORCID: 0000-0002-4121-1176 and Ehret, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-2478-8889, 2016. Developing adaptive capability: the case of Nottingham’s nascent biotechnology sector. In: RSA Annual Conference 2016: Building Bridges: Cities and Regions in a Transnational World, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Graz, Austria, 3-6 April 2016.


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A region’s adaptive capability describes its ability to respond positively to changes and shocks that affect the regional economy over time and take advantage of new and emerging market opportunities from wherever they arise. Central to this idea is the manner in which historic economic strengths or capabilities can be turned to new purposes. This paper provides a case study that uses the concept of adaptive capability as a lens through which to explore the emergence of a notable bioscience based industrial cluster in a city region of the UK and the part that it played in helping to restructure the economic base of the city. The local economy of Nottingham faced major structural changes in the late 1990s. These changes saw not only the demise of what had at one time been a key industrial sector, but also the departure of two of the city’s three principal employers, and the closure of a major research facility owned by a third. The case explores the manner in which capabilities linked to this constellation of firms were redeployed in order to take advantage of new market opportunities. The case places particular emphasis on the contribution of firms, the restructuring of industry sectors and institutional changes that occurred at this time, to the city’s adaptive capability. In the process the case study reveals a notable example of adaptation as the local economy moved away from a previous path of regional and sectoral development, towards a new and yet related trajectory. Central to this process was the purposive re-tasking of physical assets and the mobilization of knowledge assets that were the legacy of one of the city’s historic industrial strengths. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of the wider relevance and applicability of this model of bioscience based regional development.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Creators: Smith, D., Rossiter, W., McDonald-Junor, D. and Ehret, M.
Date: 2016
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 15 Apr 2016 08:22
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 14:01

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