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Plant Biotechnol J. 2015 Oct;13(8):1209-20. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12426. Epub 2015 Jul 3.

Commercialization of new biotechnology: a systematic review of 16 commercial case studies in a novel manufacturing sector.

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Hotung Molecular Immunology Unit, Institute for Infection and Immunity, St George's, University of London, London, UK.


The 1980s and 1990s saw a major expansion of biotechnology into new areas of science including genomics and recombinant technologies. This was coupled to the widespread emergence of academics into the commercial sector as they were encouraged to spin out companies or commercialize their intellectual property. There were many opportunities to raise investment, and extraordinary success stories were prominent across many areas of technology. The field of plant biotechnology for manufacturing recombinant pharmaceuticals (molecular pharming) emerged and was developed in this period. Like other biotechnologies, this was an exciting new development which offered some very obvious benefits and commercial advantages. In particularly, plant molecular pharming represented a highly novel and potentially disruptive manufacturing technology for recombinant proteins. Twenty-five years on, a series of interviews with senior members of sixteen of the most prominent companies involved in the field provides insight into the original drivers for commercialization, strategic thinking and planning behind key commercial decisions and an insider view into the major reasons for commercial success or failure. These observations and recurring themes identified across a number of commercial ventures remain relevant today, as new biotech companies continue to spin out of the world of academia.


commercialization; molecular pharming; plant biotechnology; spin-out

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