This paper is about a specific type of Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS), namely R&D services in biotechnology, and their growth in four Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Like other emerging and developing countries, the four countries in the Southern Cone are slowly adopting biotechnology. Well over a hundred dedicated biotechnology firms are already providing services in the region, from R&D to bioinformatics, to gene identification and stem cell databank storage services. We interviewed some 23 firms in the region, as well as a few policy makers and other public servants, we analyzed the policy environment, conducted the analysis of the data and linked them with the theoretical framework and hypotheses.
The paper starts with a theoretical discussion about KIBS, draws a few hypotheses, then presents the survey and its methodology, the science, technology and innovation (STI) policy framework in the region, and concludes by proposing several policy additions for science and technology: increasing public R&D expenditures, designing and implementing venture capital, academic recruitment and procurement innovation policies, in order to increase the supply and demand of biotechnology services. Finally, the quality and quantity of biotechnology statistics (and all R&D statistics) need to be seriously reconsidered and revamped. External advice (i.e. from OECD and/or Statistics Canada), and quality control may be useful.