Channels of interaction in health biotechnology networks in South Africa: who benefits and how?
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The promotion of university-industry linkages in developing countries is contested, given high levels of poverty, inequality and human
development needs. A recent research trend offers new insights that can shift the terms of debate and inform differentiated policy approaches in a more contextually appropriate way. The focus is a framework to analyse the benefits and risks associated with different channels of university-firm interaction. The paper analyses case studies of diverse channels of interaction in the
health biotechnology sector in six research groups based in two South African universities, a sector prioritised for its potential to enhance global competitiveness and address social problems. Analysis demonstrates the complexity of the ways in which combinations of channels are engaged in the practice of health biotechnology research groups to meet multiple economic
and intellectual goals. The framework requires further refinement, but points to the importance of targeted policy attempts not only to support those channels that are likely to have the greatest benefits, but equally, to mitigate the risks of specific channels, particularly the social risks to knowledge generation and diffusion or to growing a new industrial sector.
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