The pharmaceutical and agro-biotechnology industries have been confronted by dwindling product pipelines and rapid developments in life sciences, thus demanding a strategic rethink of conventional research and development. Despite offering both industries a solution to the pipeline problem, the life sciences have also brought complex regulatory challenges for firms. In this paper, we comment on the response of these industries to the life science trajectory, in the context of maturing conventional small-molecule product pipelines and routes to market. The challenges of managing transition from maturity to new high-value-added innovation models are addressed. Furthermore, we argue that regulation plays a crucial role in shaping the innovation systems of both industries, and as such, we suggest potentially useful changes to the current regulatory system.