Innovation in Resource-Based Technology Clusters: Investigating the Lateral Migration Thesis – The manufacture of biodegradable plastics from maize starch

by WALKER, M. & FARISANI, L., 2006
Research Report, Employment Growth & Development Initiative, Human Sciences Research Council

Walker & Farisani offer a case study of the lateral migration of technology from a resource sector in South Africa. They explore the role of collaborative partnerships and linkages in the diversification process of firms, particularly those that have moved from primary resource-based activities into high-value niche applications. Their focus is on the production of biodegradable plastics from maize starch, reporting on a two year government funded R&D project. Although existing polymer processing equipment and imported high-grade maize starch were used to manufacture biodegradable plastic and no mass manufactured products were generated through the research process, a notable outcome from the project was the lessons learnt/experience gained through the process of learning-by-doing and the systematic process of adopting, internalising and matching insights obtained through interaction with international experts with those developed locally.