Student Voices

Travel Report: Sarah Giest, Political Science

April 15, 2014
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Sarah Giest, a PhD Candidate in Political Science, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award to further her research in the USA and Singapore. Her report:

For research on my dissertation entitled: Resolving the paradox of location in a global economy: Cluster facilitation and network management in the biotechnology sector, I was able to travel to two cities with the Graduate International Travel Award: Chicago and Singapore. The goal was to learn more about innovation networks, their management and the role of government. In both cases I conducted hour-long interviews with a total of 19 experts and officials from research facilities, the biotechnology industry and government. These face-to-face meetings gave me important insights into the dynamics within both networks and which role government plays in supporting innovation in these countries.

Singapore – February 2013

After setting up interview dates in advance, I was thrilled to see a new country in a part of the world I had never been to while at the same time contributing to my research. Many officials and experts were willing to share their knowledge on how the biotechnology sector works in Singapore and not only gave me their time, but also additional material I was able to use. During my time in the city-state I learned a lot about Singapore, its people and the biotechnology network. There are high levels of government involvement in this up-and-coming sector and before my travel, I was unaware of the extent of reliance on government funding. I also visited the new science park ‘Biopolis’, which was built in support of networking structures in the sector (see picture).

Chicago, Illinois – March 2013

The second case study was not as far away as Singapore, but nonetheless very informative for my research. Again, I interviewed people in the biotechnology sector from government, research and industry to see how the region copes with the competition from the Bay Area in California and Boston where successful high-tech networks exist. I was lucky that one of my interview partners took me to a planning meeting for an upcoming biotechnology convention, which was held a week after my departure. I could listen in on the planning activities and observe how people I had already interviewed were connected. On top of that it gave me the opportunity to talk to people that were not on my interview list.

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