Weakness as strength in the Scottish life sciences: Institutional embedding of knowledge-based commodity chains in a less-favoured region

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Despite all the talk of knowledge-driven, knowledge-based, and learning economies, it is not always clear or self-evident whether all countries, let alone regions, will share the spoils of emerging technological trends and changes. In particular, less-favoured regions (LFRs) like Scotland face a number of difficulties as a consequence of this emerging knowledge-based economy (KBE) and the strategies necessary to overcome their existing uneven position in order to adapt to new global economic imperatives. More specifically, the KBE agenda invokes strategies that do not adequately address the existing uneven development of LFRs in relation to “growth” regions that have the institutional infrastructure and arrangements necessary to attract and embed new forms of employment, new knowledge capacities, and new industrial sectors. However, this article will explore the institutional grounding of the life sciences sector in Scotland in order to consider how particular institutional arrangements that may appear disadvantageous can also lead to new, potentially advantageous arrangements that can help LFRs to avoid continuing economic stagnation or decline.