While there is a large and growing international literature on economic aspects of biotechnology innovation (e.g. work by Carlsson, McKelvey, Orsenigo, Zucker and Darby) these studies concentrate on the United States and Europe. The New Zealand biotechnology industry may be expected to develop along a different trajectory as a consequence of a markedly different set of initial and framework conditions. This paper presents the results of an ongoing study that aims to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge of innovation processes in New Zealand while using the international literature as a benchmark. The size and structure of modern biotech activity in New Zealand is described and compared to other OECD countries using biotech patent data and results from the New Zealand and Canadian biotechnology surveys. The paper then focuses on factors affecting innovation in biotechnology; framework conditions, government policy R&D funding and the role of networks and other linkages.