Towards a theory of peripheral, early-stage clusters, Regional Studies. This paper attempts to contribute to a theory of clusters in the biotechnology sector with special reference to those operating at the periphery and away from major and established centres. It identifies causes of delayed and stunted development such as inadequate institutional support, a lack of networking, diverging perceptions, and cognitive disagreement among major players in a cluster. The conclusions are formalised into six propositions. This research has implications for public sector policy and theory of peripheral clusters, thus enriching academic research which frequently concentrates on established clusters that have grown organically. New concepts of ‘general periphery’ and ‘liability of unconnectedness’ are introduced.