This paper is an attempt to unpack the emergence and dynamics of science-based technologies in conceptual forms that allow us to understand better when and how the social and economic organization of search and problem-solving matters. The evolution over two decades of a specific science-based technology is mapped with data from its 192 patents. For the five European countries generating the majority of patents, we identify the host organizations of all 275 inventors involved in the R&D behind the patents. Using network analysis we then map the evolution of separate innovation systems and their structural and evolutionary characteristics. The best performing system combines a cumulative pattern with frequent and shifting connections to non-system R&D partners while maintaining a small core of almost omnipresent inventor-organizations. The role of multinational corporations in orchestrating innovation systems is apparent.