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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 56. Biotechnology: The Technology of the 21st Century

Shreefal Mehta

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Introduction

The 21st century has been called "the Biotech Century": a reference to the potential of emerging biotechnologies and their applications to significantly impact our lives and economies in the coming decades. Biotechnology is an emerging technology that is marked by the creation, accumulation, and commercial exploitation of new knowledge.

Knowledge-based industries flourish in countries that have fostered and established specific supportive environmental factors including mechanisms that protect and respect intellectual property rights, long-term public and private support of robust, independent academic research institutions and innovation systems that support the transfer of technology. Such established knowledge-based economies have already seen the impact of the bio-economy, an example being the exponential rise in revenues and market value of publicly-traded biotechnology companies in the U.S. from the early 1990s to 2007.

What exactly is meant by biotechnology?

Biotechnologies are the set of tools and insights that allow us to manipulate and use cellular, genetic, and biomolecular processes to solve problems or make useful products. The applications of these biotechnologies mostly involves manipulation and selective utilization of various biological processes or molecules, either in isolation from, or engineered in concert with their living cells to derive new ...

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