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2011 events

Life at the Technological Frontier: Biotech and the Limits of Asia's Developmental State

Professor Joseph Wong, University of Toronto

Canada Research Chair; Associate Professor, Political Science; Director, Asian Institute

Room S-1.06, Strand Building, Strand Campus.

Friday, 9 December, 3-5pm


 In Betting on Biotech: Innovation and the Limits of Asia’s Developmental State (Cornell University Press, 2011), Wong examines the emerging biotechnology sector in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore. These economies have invested billions of dollars in biotech industries since the 1990s, but commercial blockbusters and commensurate profits have not followed. On one level, then, Betting on Biotech is a story about the challenges of growing a particularly high-profile industry sector. On another level, the book is about how Asian states, firms, universities and the general public more generally are making very high-stakes bets on things about which they know very little. The profound uncertainties of life-science-based industries such as biotech have forced these Asian economic dynamos to confront a new logic of industry development, one in which past strategies of picking and making winners have given way to a new strategy of throwing resources at what remain very long shots. Betting on Biotech illuminates a new political economy of industrial technology innovation in places where one would reasonably expect tremendous potential; yet where billion-dollar bets in biotech continue to teeter on the brink of spectacular failure.


 Joseph Wong is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is also the Director of the Asian Institute in the Munk School of Global Affairs. In addition to articles and book chapters, Wong is the author of Betting on Biotech: Innovation and the Limits of Asia’s Developmental State (Cornell University Press, 2011) and Healthy Democracies: Welfare Politics in Taiwan and South Korea (Cornell University Press, 2004). He is also the co-editor of Political Transitions in Dominant Party Systems: Learning to Lose (Routledge, 2008). Professor Wong’s current research is on poverty and health care in the global south, including a large-scale collaborative research project with the faculties of management, engineering and medicine on scaling-up frugal engineering in the global south. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard, Oxford, Seoul National University, Academia Sinica, National University of Singapore, among others. Wong received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 and his B.A. from McGill University in 1995.


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