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Science, the State, and the CityBritain's Struggle to Succeed in Biotechnology$
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Geoffrey Owen and Michael M. Hopkins

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728009.001.0001

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The British Response

The British Response

(p.44) 3 The British Response
Science, the State, and the City

Geoffrey Owen

Michael M. Hopkins

Oxford University Press

The chapter describes the chain of events that led to the creation, with government support, of the UK’s first biotech firm, Celltech, in 1980. There followed a wave of start-ups as scientists and entrepreneurs sought to build biotech firms on the US model. Thanks in part to the pro-entrepreneur policies of the Thatcher government, the venture capital industry grew strongly during the 1980s. With the stock market opening to loss-making biotech firms in the early 1990s, capital flowing into the sector increased and the prospects for future growth looked bright. However a series of setbacks in leading companies—most spectacularly the collapse of British Biotech, previously regarded as the flagship of the sector—undermined investor confidence. By the end of the decade the sector, as one executive put it, was still in its teenage years, still a long way behind the US and still waiting for a big success.

Keywords:   Celltech, British Biotech, venture capital, stock markets, monoclonal antibodies, universities, entrepreneurship

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