One of the main characteristics of the pharmaceutical industry, including biotechnology, is the important role played by public institutions. Their role is not only focused on encouraging research and development (R&D), but also on regulation of the final product market. The special characteristics of the pharmaceutical industry and its economic importance for many nations imply that governments have a strong interest in supporting the efficient functioning of the industry.

Many, different, economic agents are involved. Public authorities and institutions interact with a wide variety of firms in this sector. Both public authorities and firms deal with universities and other research institutions. We need to understand these interactions because how they work and are structured raises important questions of particular interest to policy makers as well as economists.

Competencies and incentives are key words. The aim of this collection of papers is to analyse how the role of public institutions can help provide both the correct competencies and the right incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to be competitive and innovative and so promote economic growth.