Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Department of Management and Marketing

First Advisor

Michael Walsh

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Moloney, UCC.


Over the past 30 years, encouraged by Ireland’s low rate of corporation tax (currently 12.5 %), and active promotion of FDI by the IDA, foreign owned pharmaceutical plants have set up and multiplied in the Cork area. To Ireland’s advantages of a low tax rate, an English speaking population, a pro-business environment and membership of EU, Cork offered the added attractions of a deepwater port and large natural harbour, good freight connections, an international airport, an educated workforce and excellent sporting and leisure facilities for sailing, golf, etc. (Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Schering Plough have bases in the Cork area).

One strand of the Industrial Development Authority’s strategy for attracting FDI into Ireland is “To develop clusters of excellence in which a range of companies and R&D centres cooperate to create a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship.” Following a Technology Foresight study in 1999, Ireland chose ICT and Biotechnology as platforms for investment to build a knowledge economy for the 21st century. In furtherance of this vision. University linked research centres in biosciences and biotechnology are being funded through PRTLI and other programmes.

Cork has many of the ingredients of a biotechnology cluster: A concentration of pharmaceutical plants, a corps of high quality researchers in UCC, CIT and Teagasc, and a strong tradition of medical research through UCC’s Faculty of Medicine and the teaching hospitals. These assets, together with the State’s commitment to develop the biotechnology sector through sustained research funding, and the attraction of further biotech players to Ireland, enhance Cork’s status as an emerging biotech hub.

In the literature, firms in a cluster are geographically proximate or concentrated, and they interact with each other in ways which spur growth through new products, more effective marketing, and the attracting of further firms to benefit from the positive environment provided by the cluster. Cluster firms also interact with the academic and research community who share the location; and the exchange of knowledge, research skills, new product concepts and trained staff, provide impetus to cluster activity and growth.

The thesis compares the concentration of biotechnology firms in Cork, Dublin and Galway, using industrial production data from CSO. It then presents survey data on interactions and linkages between the biotech enterprises in each geographic area, and interactions and spillovers between these enterprises and the local research community. Conclusions are drawn about the extent of a biotechnology cluster in the Cork area, and the policy options available, which might serve to accelerate cluster development.

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