The discovery of stem cells and their potential for clinical and therapeutic applications has opened up a new horizon for scientists in the healthcare field. The vast array of stem cell investigations has gained momentum in various institutes and companies worldwide. This thesis did not aim to answer the question of whether stem cell research is right or wrong; instead, its goal was to determine what conditions stem cell research flourishes under, or is most likely to flourish under, and under which countries or regulations is it more likely to come to fruition and generate products.
I proposed that in order to move stem cells from the lab into actual products and applications, stem cells had to go through several stages. These stages are considered the research and development (R&D) pipeline. In order to answer the research question, the stem cell’s R&D pipeline was examined. This pipeline has four stages: patents, publications, clinical trials, and products. The literature review showed that the R&D pipeline started with a large number of patents and publications for both adult and embryonic stem cells, indicative of substantial discovery research being conducted in the field. However, the first discoveries are generally followed by a dramatically reduced number of clinical trials, then even fewer products and applications for stem cells.
I went through the R&D stages of stem cells research starting with patents, then publications, followed by clinical trials, and finally products and applications to answer the research question. A range of methodologies were necessitated by the state of the industry rather than any philosophical driver. Hence, mixed methods have been employed in this thesis. This approach is the most robust research design to use since it provided a more holistic view of the studied phenomenon.
The analyses results of the stem cells’ R&D pipeline stages showed that the United States of America largely dominate the scientific output in the field of stem cells. On the other hand, the per capita analysis showed that smaller countries, such as Israel, Singapore, Switzerland, and Sweden, were in the lead in terms of scientometric and technometric output. These four countries have permissive stem cell regulations and moderate to low religious adherence to their respective predominant religions.