Biotechnology is known as one of the most knowledge-intensive of industries, being a typical example of a science-based technology (Asheim 2007). In order to assess the role of cooperation between public and private sectors for the development and diffusion of seed biotechnology in Argentina, this study utilises National Innovation Systems (NIS) as a theoretical framework. Based on qualitative interviews, the study focuses on how agents in research- and commercial milieus interact. The analysis shows that multinational corporations have been the most important source of seed biotechnology since its introduction in 1996. However, along with enhanced research- and technological capacity in the local industry, Argentine biotechnology firms increasingly seek partners from public research centres to stimulate innovation. The informants further consider weak intellectual property rights for genetically modified plants an impediment for long-term innovation activities. Contrary to scholarship on biotechnology and innovation in Western countries, the university sector is found to be a marginal player in the Argentine innovation system. The case also shows that the strong position of agriculture in the country makes farmers crucial for the success of new seed biotechnology.
Keywords: Biotechnology, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), innovation, innovation systems, intellectual property rights (IPR), research and development (R&D), science and technology.