Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Universities as engines of technological change

An examination of academic organization at the forefront of the biotechnology revolution

Simcha Jong Kon Chin


This project examines the history of the biomedical sciences at Silicon Valley research universities (UC Berkeley, UCSF, Stanford) and their role in the development of the biotechnology industry. The project highlights how the organizational environment of “founding laboratories” determines the success of spin-off firms, and demonstrates how technologically disruptive spin-off firms often emerge from labs that are embedded in collaborative scholarly networks organised around clinically relevant research themes. I also show how major organisational initiatives at San Francisco universities of the past decades were shaped by the industrial R&D experiences of those academics who led these initiatives.


Universities are increasingly seen as a key driver of economic growth and innovation in contemporary societies. My research provides tools and frameworks that help stakeholders leverage university scholarship in strengthening the competitiveness of regional and national knowledge-based economies. I am regularly invited to present my work at meetings of stakeholders with an interest in fostering university entrepreneurship, such as at a recent Science Business meeting at the offices of the European Commission in Brussels, and as a keynote speaker at the Healthcluster Portugal meeting in Lisbon.

Selected publications

Jong, S., & Marston, L. (2012). After the life sciences strategy: managing science-based R&D collaborations. London, UK: UCL/NESTA.
Jong, S. (2008). Academic organizations and new industrial fields; Berkeley and Stanford after the rise of biotechnology. Research Policy, 37 (8), 1267-1282. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2008.05.001
Jong, S. (2006). How organizational structures in science shape spin-off firms: the biochemistry departments of Berkeley, Stanford, and UCSF and the birth of the biotech industry. Industrial and Corporate Change, 15 (2), 251-283.

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