An exploration of entrepreneurial ecosystems for biopharma SMEs in a second-tier region: Deploying cognitive proximity as a theoretical lens for ecosystems and relationships

Gonzalez Lopez, Jose Francisco (2022) An exploration of entrepreneurial ecosystems for biopharma SMEs in a second-tier region: Deploying cognitive proximity as a theoretical lens for ecosystems and relationships. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Entrepreneurial ecosystems are becoming an important subject area in academia as these regional structures are being adopted by governments as a policy initiative aiming to improve regional entrepreneurship and innovation. The concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems has its roots in systems theory and serves as an ecological metaphor as these are settings in which groups of interconnected actors cooperate to promote and facilitate entrepreneurial activities such as business development and innovation within a specific regional context. Therefore, entrepreneurial ecosystems do not only exist, but they require inputs that can be transformed into outputs through interactions with relevant mediators.

This thesis employs cognitive proximity as a theoretical lens to understand how an entrepreneurial ecosystem in a second-tier region supports biopharma SMEs whilst being constrained by limited access to funding and a lack of sustained sector-specific support from the government. Cognitive proximity is chosen to address the research question “how does a second-tier region support SME activity in the biopharma industry?” as the construct ponders the importance of common languages, similar knowledge bases, and shared goals to facilitate interactions between organisations in an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The first objective of this thesis was to explore the interactions between inputs and mediators in an entrepreneurial ecosystem for biopharma SMEs in a second-tier region.

Taking an embedded case study approach and drawing upon interview data with a diverse group of key actors in such an ecosystem, the study

develops a framework to identify and understand the contextual factors and their interactions to the genesis and development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Here a new type of actor, defined as an “anchor mediator” was found to play a pivotal role in addressing resource deficiencies in the region.

The second research objective was to understand the lifecycle of partnerships in the biopharma industry from the perspective of the SMEs in this second-tier region. Through in-depth interviews with SME managers and their key stakeholders, the study was able to understand and represent the lifecycle of partnerships in the biopharma industry. Therefore, the second contribution of this research is an articulation of the enabling role of cognitive proximity to the formation and management of partnerships in the biopharma industry for SMEs lacking key financial and policy support.

This thesis concludes that cognitive proximity can be used as a theoretical lens to help researchers better understand the role that interactions play in supporting biopharma SMEs within entrepreneurial ecosystems in second-tier regions whilst enabling the development of new knowledge in the literature regarding regional development and partnerships in the biopharma industry. For policymakers, this research highlights the importance of a public sector-supported anchor mediator taking a long-term role in addressing cognitive proximity between organisations.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mosey, Simon
Noke, Hannah
Keywords: Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, SMEs, Biopharma Industry
Subjects: H Social sciences > HB Economic theory
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 71828
Depositing User: González López, José
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2024 15:55
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 15:55

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