chapter  8
Rough road to the market: Constrained innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria, Ghana and Bangladesh
Pages 29

We apply the framework developed in Chapter 4 which specifies the parameters that condition the translation of inventive activities (which include R&D, design, prototype building) into commercial innovations. The focus of analysis will be on showing how the different physical and scientific infrastructural components interact in the process of knowledge generation, use and transfer and how social institutions, norms and policy frameworks condition these interactions. The analysis aims to identify the principal forms of interaction between different organizations and firms and evaluate the determinants of collaboration, particularly the role of public goods and policies and their impact on innovative performance. The finding points to an important but neglected reason why inventive efforts tend to get largely buried in the pre-commercial phase in latecomer country contexts. Investing in primary research without extension services that allow for entrepreneurial venues, further characterized by a lack of policy incentives for collaboration between different actors, accounts for the inability of actors to commercialize. It sheds light on how policy change could help attenuate this phenomenon. Second, the comparative insights that are thrown up from the three country analyses lend strength to our argument on the relevance of different institutional and historical factors for knowledge generation. We have chosen to examine biotechnology deliberately. It is a new technology with considerable research payoffs to developing countries but demands the presence of certain ex ante innovation conditions. We define biotechnology not as a sector, but as a new technology with potential for integration in numerous traditional sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, environment and industry in general. In this chapter, we focus on agricultural biotechnology only. The rest of the chapter is organized as follows. In the next section, we provide the basic hypotheses and the data-collection techniques in the three field countries, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Ghana. This is followed by case studies and survey results of the biotechnology sector in all three countries, with a specific emphasis on collaborative linkages and their impact on innovation and performance and the role of governmental support. The last section presents comparative analyses and concludes. We also use these three cases to highlight the point that institutions for promoting innovation and new technologies have to be strategic in the case of latecomer countries. Nigeria and Ghana have only established the barest research facilities in the public sector and are severely lacking in strategic policy sector initiatives that could allow the local private sector to capitalize on these research results to produce commercially viable products. The case of Bangladesh illustrates a regime of complete fracture between public and private sectors, but fortuitously has one particular sector performing well and others far behind.