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Ana Carolina Landuyt
Landuyt Consultancy

Biotechnology is a business sector based on sciences. The scientific knowledge used to create new or
improved products, services and processes comes from different sources and pursues particular
centers of interest. To bring an idea into the market a company has to hire people from distinct
backgrounds and has to make use of a variety of connections with the external work environment.
Biotechnology is thus about being creative on high collaborative ways. However, the literature about
creativity in the sector has shown that none or very few attention has been given to the development
of the creative capacity in biotechnology. To help in solving this gap, we propose the interactive
exposition of case studies in a world-wide dimension, so that people could be exercising together the
capacity of solving scientific or commercial biotechnological matters. We have make use of this
methodology in hope of motivating the creation of breakthrough biovalues.

Keywords: biotechnology; creativity; collaboration.

Since the beginning of the 21
century the biotechnology has been pointed out as
one of the most important sectors for the social and economic development ( Thumm, 2001;
Hine & Kapeleris, 2006). The application of science and technology to living
organisms/elements makes possible the knowledge production and the origin of products
and services ( Van Beuzekom & Arundel, 2009). However, the creation of the different in
biotechnology is not a simple task and requires the contribution of a diversified network (
Powell et al., 1999). The establishment rate of alliances and partnerships is higher than in
any other sector ( Hagedoorn, 1993). Audretsch & Feldman (2003) underline the vital
importance of working in collaboration, specially in case of new biotech firms (NBFs). The
biotechnology sector is characterized by a well-structured network of inter-organizational
contracts which rules the interaction between new companies, established firms and
scientists ( Liebeskind et al., 1995).
Considering the variety of activities in biotechnology, being them clustered in three
main areas called human and animal health, agriculture and industrial biotechnology ( Hine &
Kapeleris, 2006), the knowledge flow from the discovery until the commercialization is

characterized by the collaboration of people specialized in different research areas and in
many non-scientific issues ( Collingham, 2004). Baranano, Bommer & Jalajas (2005)
identified the importance of external sources for innovative ideas, while researching high-
tech SME`s from the US, Canada and Portugal. In the US, for example, external sources
rated higher than the internal ones.
Biotechnology is a business sector based on sciences ( Gertler & Levitte, 2005).
Without the dedication of highly creative, appropriately motivated and organized scientists (
Finegold & Frenkel, 2006, p. 4), the research and development (R&D) around breakthrough
values will difficultly happen.
Adams, Beniston & Childs (2009), having as focus biotechnology companies and
faculties situated in the UK, identified that the training in creativity has received poor (or
none) attention by the large majority of them. Considering the relevance of the United
Kingdom in the European biotechnology context ( EuropaBio, 2006), the findings of Adams,
Beniston & Childs 2009) deserve high attention. The authors pointed out to the significance
of driving people from different disciplines and with distinct viewpoints to interact together
and generate unexpected connections.
Rickards & Moger (2000) identified that the training in creativity has a positive impact
in the performance of teams involved with creative goals. Nevertheless, a group leader
interviewed in Hemlin (2009, p. 283) provides indiciums that the relationship between
creativity and the work environment is a complicated matter: (...) as soon as a research is
conducted in a company, creativity drops quickly.
Pollack (2004) exposed that biotechnology firms have experienced periods where the
taking of high risks specially in case of doing research around radical innovations is not
the main priority anymore. In accordance with Sawyer (2008), the competition pressures
together with long and expensive R&D cycles have driven biotechnology enterprises to
stronger focus on stability and efficiency. However, Gwynne (2008) and Bonetta (2009)
demonstrated that being a leader in new discoveries and innovation still represent a strong
goal for many of the most remarkable biotechnology companies. Some authors have
highlighted the relevant roles of creativity, growth and renewal for reaching success in
biotechnology (Hawken, Lovins & Hunter Lovins; Rayman; Bomemann & Leithner; Acquaah;
Friedman; Vitale cit. in ODonnel, Kramar & Dyball, 2009).
This disparity of priorities is relevant to urge in all biotechnology enterprises the
importance of working creatively not only to be capable of solving a bigger variety of
problems and challenges, but also to make possible the origin of innovative products and
services. In this paper we introduce a creative problem solving approach destinated to
people in the biotechnology field. Results indicate the existence of constraints to it.


Landuyt Consultancy is an independent start-up with activities in creativity and
innovation for the biotechnology sector. In the 15
of June 2011 the company created in its
website a new section denominated Study cases in collaboration. The purpose of this
activity is the exposition of fictious or real defiances in biotechnology. Each study case,
available both in English and in Portuguese, affords people all around the world to introduce
different possible solutions for the same problem or challenge.
On the same day previously cited, the company posted in its website a study case
(table 1) about the leadership in the sector. The creator announced it in a world-wide
professional network with access to thousands of people in the biotechnology area:

Table 1: Study case in biotechnology
Objectives: introduce students and scientists to possible challenges present in the commercial
biotechnology environment.
The case: John is an American senior scientist in the biopharmacology area. He moved out of
the university to be the head of a multicultural team of 9 PhD's in a well-recognized private
company situated in India. John's function will involve the planning, organizing, leading and
controlling of procedures, systems and people to develop a variety of recombinant proteins
(factors VIII, IX and G-CSF) in a determined period of time. Despite of his brilliant career as a
scientist, John is not quite sure about his skills to work in the industry. However, the company
has provided him different courses to empower his management abilities.
Eight months later: John has been viewed by his collaborators as an excellent task focused
manager. Each goal has been well transmited to the team members and each step has been
well organized and controlled, but the performance levels have not been as high as John had
expected they would be. John is feeling the pressure! These invisible constraints have
decreased his motivation capacity and because of this he has not been capable of boostering
enough his team. John is going to have an up-front meeting to discuss the reasons of such a
poor performance. A people management expert will carry out a brainstorming with John and
the team to find possible solutions. Let's suppose you are a team member, which ideas would
you suggest? Think creatively!

From the 15
of June until the 14
of July, Landuyt Consultancy's website got a total
of 112 visitors from 15 different countries or territories. These values represent an average of
3.73 visitors/day and of 7.46 visitors/location. The level of interaction in the section Study
case in collaboration got an average of 0.1 respondents/day.


Considering the results previously exposed, it is possible to verify the low levels of
collaboration to this methodology. Considering the importance of being creative in the
biotechnology sector, we had expected higher levels of interaction. We have two main
hypothesis for this effect:
x the young company's character;
x the creative capacity of people in the biotechnology field.
Regarding the first supposition, the literature around the capabilities and constraints
of start-ups underline the relevance of having a favorable position in the market to access
information, resources and knowledge ( Powell, Koput & Smith-Doerr, 1996; Stuart, Hoang &
Hybels, 1999 cit in Zheng, Liu & George, 2006). This suitable position, however, requires a
period of time to be obtained, specially in case of companies founded by young
entrepreneurs ( Kushell, 1999; Schrder, 2009). Biotech start-ups started by star scientists
have privileged position due the access to an extensive network of contacts from the
academia and industry ( Corolleur, Carrere & Mangematin, 2004). Taking into consideration
that the exposition of a solution to a determined biotechnology problem would be a
demonstration of knowledge, it is possible that creative attitutes with strong collaboration
needs have to face an intrigate web of defiances if developed by start-ups .
The second hypothesis could be firstly supported by the findings of Adams, Beniston
& Childs (2009) about the lack of creative training in the higher education and industry
environments in the UK. The authors point out to the tendency of universities to motivate the
constant absorption of knowledge and to put aside the significance of generative
approaches. They make use of the term ill-prepared to underline the creative difficulties
students will experience in the future. In case of companies, they highlight the common
mistake to select team leaders based on their individual research skills and not on their
dialogue and encouragement ones. Both approaches are indicated by them as desfavorable
to the creative development. A variety of features have been identified as positive to the
empowerment of scientists, including freedom and encouragement ( Amabile & Gryskiewicz,
1987); motivation and inspiration ( Binder & Bashe, 2008); vision, flexibility and commitment (
Sawyer, 2008); group climate ( Hemlin, 2009). The low level of interactivity in case of the
section Study cases in collaboration could thus represent an important signal of an ill-
prepared community in biotechnology. t probably indicates the contact with desfavorable
features to the creative development.


In accordance with Hemlin (2009), few studies have been focused in the
understanding of the relationship between creativity and biotechnology. It is not possible until
now to precise how and when biotechnology faculties and companies make use of creative
technics and if there is a real interest to employ such methods. However, it is well known the
necessity of being innovative as a way of getting competitive advantages in the sector.
The results achieved from the methodology Study cases in collaboration give
evidence of low acceptability to some kinds of approaches developed by biotechnology start-
ups founded by young entrepreneurs. They also evinces problems in the creative willingness
of people in the biotechnology sector.
Taking into account the relevance of breakthrough discoveries and innovations, it is
high recommended the development of empirical researches to identify in-depth the creative
context in biotechnology.

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