Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

Critical Success Factors for Joint Innovation: Experiences from a New Zealand Innovation Platform

Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

Critical Success Factors for Joint Innovation: Experiences from a New Zealand Innovation Platform

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper argues that a government's support for and active involvement in innovation platforms with several independent participants may be in the public interest, as long as the participants have sufficient common interest in the planned innovation, there is sufficient trust between the various parties, and complementary and appropriate resources (both human and financial) are present for joint learning and developments. Finally, output-focused behavior and conduct are essential in order to achieve outstanding results (that is, innovation). Therefore, governments should test for these necessities - in addition to public interest in the corresponding objectives - before providing public support for an innovation platform.

Keywords: Collaborative innovation, public innovation, triple helix innovation, innovation cluster, innovation platform

Introduction

Innovation and division of labor have helped humans steadily upgrade themselves from shivering and starving in caves to lives sweetened by leisure and luxury. The root cause of this development is mankind's ability to collaborate and innovate.1 These basic insights may have helped start an experimental project in New Zealand known as the Agrobiotech Innovation Academy (or AIA). This two-year innovation project, half of which was funded by the New Zealand Government, links and engages nine different participants: five businesses from the agro-tech industry, one (public) agro-research lab, two universities, and one technical college. New Zealand has two globally competitive industries: tourism and agriculture. The latter (mainly in the form of dairy farms) benefits from the country's climate and specialized national suppliers. This is important since most innovations related to productivity gains in the agricultural sector stem from the sector's suppliers (machinery, chemical fertilizers, etc.) (Pavitt, 1984). While the five private-sector participants in AIA were primarily looking for joint product innovations, the three members from the tertiary sector saw the project more as a liaison platform and a vehicle with which to build ties with the regional agro-tech cluster around the city of Hamilton in the Waikato region of New Zealand. The government's research institute viewed the project primarily as a new competitor for public funds.

This paper seeks to cast new light on critical questions such as what it takes for a collaboration to become successful via empirical input from the AIA project in New Zealand. In 2007, the AIA project received NZ$1 million of funding from the Tertiary Education Commission of NZ (TEC) with the purpose of promoting and further strengthening an agro-tech and biotech industry cluster in the Waikato region via a joint innovation platform. The initiative concluded in 2009 without having achieved any tangible results or returns. A large MNC, three medium-sized companies, one small company, a public research institute, two universities, and one technical college participated in the AIA initiative between 2007 and 2009.2 The insights discussed in this paper stem mainly from the qualitative, exploratory AIA case study and could be further validated by a quantitative research study, ideally one with a broad sample of successful collaborative innovations.

The results of this research suggest that a collaborative group must be properly representative. This paper presents four key conditions or criteria that participating members of an innovation platform must fulfill. First, there must be sufficient common interest in the planned innovations. Second, there must be sufficient trust between the various parties. Third, complementary and appropriate resources (both human and financial) are required for joint learning and developments. Finally, proper behavior and conduct are essential in order to achieve outstanding results (that is, innovation).

Literature review

At the company level, Schumpeter (1943) proposed cooperative entrepreneurship as a solution for the (innovation) delivery problem. …

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