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Perception Over Fact: A Media Case Study of the Life Sciences Cluster in Puerto Rico

[ Vol. 3 , Issue. 1 ]

Author(s):

Moira A. Gunn   Pages 21 - 31 ( 11 )

Abstract:


In December, 2015, mainstream media coverage of a U.S. Supreme Court petition led to the revelation that Puerto Rico was $72 billion in debt. In January, 2016, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) issued a travel precaution to Puerto Rico due to the Zika virus. Given the tenor of public opinion, there was further media speculation concerning the impact on Puerto Rico’s tourism industry. However, tourism is a relatively small part of its economy. This paper examines the potential for media impact on the life sciences industry in Puerto Rico, which represents some 25% of its GDP, and over half of Puerto Rico’s exports, comprised of $40 billion in pharmaceuticals and $4 billion in medical devices. Included are media ramifications relating to governmental status, specifically with regard to the life sciences industry, and how other governmental actions have impacted Puerto Rico’s innovation capabilities. The Strategic Science-Business Media (SSBM) Model is used as guide to examining select media coverage relating to the life sciences industry. Two global industry-related reports/databases were also compared: The Nature Index [4da], which provides a 12-month rolling window of high-quality scientific articles from 158 countries, including the life sciences, and the Scientific American worldVIEW Scorecard, which analyzes and interprets data to rank 54 countries for innovation potential in biotechnology on a yearly basis. This comparison will show how Puerto Rico’s life sciences capability was inadvertently underrepresented and/or misrepresented, when combining data from two industry reports/databases, due to confusion regarding the unusual governmental status of Puerto Rico with respect to the United States. As a result of this study, this paper shall also present a revision to the SSBM model, Strategic Science-Business Media Model 2.0, to include the role of industry reports and global databases. Conclusions indicate that constant vigilance is required regarding underrepresentation and/or misrepresentation in the media, industry reports and global databases, and that more recognition in traditional media is now possible given the emergence of Puerto Rico’s research community’s ability to commercialize and now forge Puerto Rico’s reputation as a life sciences innovation cluster in the future.

Keywords:

Puerto Rico, life sciences, Puerto Rico life sciences, strategic science-business media, bioentrepreneurship.

Affiliation:

University of San Francisco, School of Management, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117-1047, USA.



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