Cross-border acquisitions of science-based firms: their effect on innovation in the acquired firm and the local science and technology system

Professor Marcela Miozzo , University of Manchester

The UK through its research councils and charity organisations invests heavily in sustaining a strong and healthy science base, which is second only to the USA in sectors such as medical and life sciences, mathematics and physics. Nevertheless, the UK faces challenges in its ability to commercialise and benefit from the economic impact of science and innovation. Part of the problem is the ‘funding gap’ that science-based British firms face at various stages of development, which is a serious impediment to realising the full economic potential of publicly-funded science. One of the ways to fill that gap is through cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

As the number of cross-border acquisitions of UK firms in general, and of UK science-based firms in particular, continues to increase, so do the questions about what happens to the technological resources and assets of acquired science-based firms. The main concern of policymakers and stakeholders is whether the R&D projects of the acquired firms continue to be developed in the UK, as well as whether scientists and technicians continue to be employed in the UK. This is particularly relevant with respect to science-based firms, which have built their technological assets and capabilities primarily from university research and have developed through the support of national and regional financial, governmental and educational institutions.

This paper asks what happens to the technological resources and assets of host country science-based firms when they are acquired by foreign firms. Drawing on a multiple case study research design and interviews with UK biopharmaceutical firms and on patent data, the paper derives different patterns of knowledge base combinations through acquisition that have different outcomes in terms of innovation. These patterns are based on combinations of two factors: the complementarity or similarity of the technology, and the complementarity or similarity of the discovery and development capabilities of the target and acquiring firm. These combinations have clear differential outcomes in terms of investment in the acquired firm’s technology and important effects for the local science and technology system.


About the speaker
Marcela Miozzo is Professor of Economics and Management of Innovation at Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. She obtained her Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA in 1997. Her research explores the relationship between business organisation and innovation at the national and sectoral level through comparative analysis. She has carried out a large number of international comparative projects financed by the Anglo German Foundation, British Academy, EC, ESRC, EPSRC, ISBE and Tyndall. She has authored around 30 articles, 15 book chapters and co-authored two books, publishing in academic journals that include Research Policy, Organization Studies, and Industrial and Corporate Change.

Venue: Conference Room

Date: 02 May 2013

Time: 12:30 - 13:30


UNU-MERIT