At present, industries within the health and life science sector are moving towards one another resulting in new industries such as the medical nutrition industry. Medical nutrition products are specific nutritional compositions for intervention in disease progression and symptom alleviation. Industry convergence, described as the blurring of boundaries between industries, plays a crucial role in the shaping of new markets and industries. Assuming that the medical nutrition industry has emerged from the convergence between the food and pharma industries, it is crucial to research how and which distinct industry domains have contributed to establish this relatively new industry. The first two stages of industry convergence (knowledge diffusion and consolidation) are measured by means of patent analysis. First, the extent of knowledge diffusion within the medical nutrition industry is graphed in a patent citation interrelations network. Subsequently the consolidation based on technological convergence is determined by means of patent co-classification. Furthermore, the medical nutrition core domain and technology interrelations are measured by means of a cross impact analysis. This study proves that the medical nutrition industry is a result of food and pharma convergence. It is therefore crucial for medical nutrition companies to effectively monitor technological developments within as well as across industry boundaries. This study further reveals that although the medical nutrition industry's core technology domain is food, technological development is mainly driven by pharmaceutical/pharmacological technologies Additionally, the results indicate that the industry has surpassed the knowledge diffusion stage of convergence, and is currently in the consolidation phase of industry convergence. Nevertheless, while the medical nutrition can be classified as an industry in an advanced phase of convergence, one cannot predict that the pharma and food industry segments will completely converge or whether the medical industry will become an individual successful industry.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Weenen, T.C, Ramezanpour, B, Pronker, E.S, Commandeur, H.R, & Claassen, H.J.H.M. (2013). Food-pharma convergence in medical nutrition. PLoS ONE, 8(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082609