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Commercialising neurofutures: Promissory economies, value creation and the making of a new industry

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The contemporary era is characterised by the development of knowledge economies in which scientific research and technical innovation are seen as the motor for growth and competitive advantage. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the biosciences, where the emerging bioeconomy is surrounded by high hopes, but remains an area with few working technologies entering routine use. These developments have focused scholarly attention on the performative role that sociotechnical expectations play in constituting new scientific and technological domains. However, relatively little is known about the role of expectations in the commercial development of new technologies, the commodification of knowledge and the creation of economic value. This article therefore seeks to address these questions by exploring the role of expectations in the creation of a new industrial sector based on the commercial development of neurotechnology in the United States. In particular, it will focus on the role of two types of ‘promissory organisation’ in the making of the neuroindustry, how different regimes of hope and promise have been constructed around distinct groups of companies, and the complex relationship between these regimes. In conclusion, some reflections will be made about the way in which high-technology industries, sociotechnical futures and new forms of promissory value are co-produced.

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Martin, P. Commercialising neurofutures: Promissory economies, value creation and the making of a new industry. BioSocieties 10, 422–443 (2015).

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