Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Commercializing Technological Research and Skills: Drivers from European Technology Institutes

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Commercializing Technological Research and Skills: Drivers from European Technology Institutes

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Europe, a top-performer in research and technology development, is not as successful as expected in taking advantage of its research excellence to promote prosperity. Europe suffers from a number of critical weaknesses in its science and innovation system contributing to problems such as low productivity, declining competitiveness, inadequate response to societal challenges, and inability to move to a new sustainable economic model. The key weakness is Europe's innovation gap (European Commission, 2011). For future productivity and growth, it is important to generate breakthrough technologies and to translate them into innovations that are taken up by the wider economy. Yet Europe is lacking the capacity to turn technological research and skills into economic and social wealth through innovation (European Commission, 1995). For example, while Europe has taken an early technological lead in many green and 'quality of life' (health, security, etc.) technologies, its advantage is tenuous in the face of growing competition, and has not translated into an innovative and competitive lead. This situation comes as several structural problems overlap, such as insufficient contribution of research and innovation to tackling societal challenges; insufficient technological leadership and innovation capability of firms and the need to strengthen the science base.

According to Arnold. Rush, and Bessant (1998) increasing the amount of research does not necessarily foster innovation. Innovation is contingent on strengthening the linkages between science and business for a more intensive use of available technological research and skills. Most companies require accessing external sources of knowledge to stay innovative and competitive (Barge-Gil & Modrego, 2011; Rothwell, 1983). It is in this context that Technology Institutes (TIs) are of great importance in overcoming the innovation gap (Dalziel, 2010; Modrego, Barge-Gil, & Nuñez-Sanchez, 2005). Furthermore, increasing the effectiveness of innovation mechanisms, such as interfaces between science and business, such as TIs, is a key concern as policymakers are acknowledging the fact that intensive cross-sectoral collaboration between actors is crucial to any innovation system (Cooke, 2005).

This study recognizes the essential role for industrial innovation played by TIs. TIs act as innovation- and technology-related service providers (Arnold et al., 1998). If successful, TIs may have a powerful impact over economic and technological development (Rush, Hobday, Bessant, & Arnold, 1996). Despite this, TIs have received little attention in the scholarly literature (Howells, 2006; Knockaert & Spithoven, 2014; Modrego et at., 2005). Most studies address how TIs contribute to industrial innovation (Adams, Chiang, & Jensen,(2003; Hervas-Oliver, Albors-Garrigos, de-Miguel, & Hidalgo, 2012; and Knockaert, Spithoven, & Clarysse, 2014). Academic research hardly makes TIs the unit of analysis of studies (Albors-Garrigos, Rincon-Diaz, & Igartua-Lopez, 2014; Knockaert & Spithoven, 2014) like Albors-Garrigos et al. (2014); Arnold et al. (1998); Rush, Hobday, Bessant, Arnold, and Murray (1995) and WAITRO (1997) do. It is acknowledged that some TIs are more successful than others to foster industrial innovation due to strategic and operational reasons (Arnold et al., 1998). Therefore, the understanding of the drivers for TIs to foster industrial innovation can provide insights to better promote industrial innovation throughout collaboration with external sources of knowledge. Hence, this study aims to identify the characteristics of TIs that make them succeed in transferring technological research and skills to industry throughout commercialization of innovation- and technology-related service. This is of value for policymakers, R&D managers and, indirectly, industry. Policymakers gain useful insights to improve linkages between science and industry, and to incentivize business expenditure in R&D. …

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