Technology Commercialization & Entrepreneurial Activity. Towards an array of parameters affecting the exploitation potential
1Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece; 2Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece; 3Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece
During the IT Research and Development (R&D) process, many innovative technologies are being produced, tackling various corporate, industrial or societal problems. These technological innovations can be either incremental or radical, depending on the level of novelty they bring in the involving case or process.
The diffusion of high tech innovation and research outputs into industry and society is a complex and multilevel process. In order for these innovative research outputs to reach the market, there is a complex process of transferring them from academia to industry, which involves various alternatives. One commercialization path for high tech and innovative technological research outputs is the new venture creation and entrepreneurial activity. However, this commercialization strategy is a rather difficult and not straight forward process that can be affected by numerous external and internal factors.
Although technology per se (maturity level & capabilities) and targeting markets characteristics primarily affect the commercialization journey of a high tech innovation, human factor may also play a significant role in this technology transfer process.
In particular, the personal characteristics and behavioral aspects of the involved exploitation team could affect the commercialization potentials of a certain high technology artifact developed during a research project.
• Which are the parameters affecting the successful entrepreneurial exploitation of a complex technological system?
• In what extend can the exploitation team affect the successful entrepreneurial exploitation of a complex system?
• Which are the characteristics of individuals comprising the exploitation team that could positively affect the exploitation?
The authors utilized case study methodology to observe, analyze and evaluate some behavioral factors that could affect the commercial exploitation potentials of an innovative ICT artefact. The specific technological artifact was developed during a three-year research project at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), funded by the European Commission Research Agency.
During this project, a big and diverse consortium across Europe developed an Augmented Reality (AR) headset that is meant to assist maintenance operators during interventions in hazardous environments.
With step-by-step visual instructions with superimposed graphics over real visual field, and real-time communication with the supervisor in the safe control room, this device was rated by the users as the most prominent work companion during complex interventions at CERN facilities. This artefact was the output of an applied research project where specific components and enhanced state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms were assembled to produce this complex ICT artefact utilizing an AR head-mounted-display, advanced optics, simplified wireless commination algorithms, various sensor fusion hardware and algorithms and custom build computer electronics for edge detection on the server side. Following the successful implementation of the system, the consortium members were interested in commercially exploiting this ICT research output via the creation of a new venture that will bring the technology in the market. The authors had the opportunity to observe the development and commercial exploitation processes of this complex ICT artifact, participating to all the pertinent project meetings.
The output of the aforementioned case study analysis was the development and further validation of a commercialization framework that could be utilized when it comes to assessing the commercialization potential of a specific technology though entrepreneurial activity.
The technology or market assessment alone can give limited insight regarding the business potential of the developed technology. Furthermore, when it comes to the exploitation of ICT artifacts, it seems there is a great amount of know how developed by the involved researchers and inventors that cannot get easily transferred (and thus monetized) along with the developed technology.
Through the analysis, it was evident that a more holistic and multidimensional approach was required, thus the developed assessment framework relays on the following dimensions: a) Technology maturity assessment per component/module (What to exploit), b) Market characteristics and business model analysis (How to exploit) and c) Actors & exploitation team (Who will exploit).
Contribution to Scholarship
Through the behavioral analysis of the key actors in the process of innovation creation and commercialization, the following thoughts were extracted.
The exploitation team is the one that will undertake the process of commercial exploitation of the research output or developed ICT artifact. Since most of ICT solutions that are developed nowadays utilize open source technologies, that have difficult intellectual property handling when it comes to technology transfer, the most prominent exploitation vehicle seems to be the entrepreneurial activity in the form of venture creation (spin-off or startup). Since a lot of required technical know-how remains with the inventors, it is understandable that these individuals should be part of this team. Things get even more complex when these individuals do not share any entrepreneurial intention or have lost their motivation, leading eventually to unexploited ICT artifacts and research, due to the lack of project sponsorship.
Contribution to Practice
Such factors and dimensions are addressed in the proposed exploitation assessment tool, along with the pure technological characteristics. However, further research is needed towards this direction both from quantitative and qualitative perspective, in order to validate and evolve the proposed framework and its dimensions.
As track authors highlighted, the transition phase from science into innovation is understudied in the field of academic research and that research organisations still struggle to commercialize their technologies. It is evident that a holistic approach is needed in order to examine the parameters that could bridge the research VoD.
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Mediating factors in starting University-Industry (U-I) Research and Development (R&D) projects: an exploratory study in a nanotechnology center
1Technology Center in Graphene and Nanomaterials (CTNano/UFMG), Brazil; 2Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil; 3Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
In a knowledge-based economy, collaborative R&D projects emerge as an important way to promote interaction between Universities and Industries. However, the execution of a R&D project is only one stage of the collaboration process, since much must be done in Fuzzy Front End (FFE) stages to make it happen.
A comprehension about the mediating factors of U-I partnerships for collaborative R&D projects — e.g. trust in people, institutions repercussion and reputation , performance of different types of champions, project planning, contract and intellectual property negotiations, last experiences, project management assumptions, interpersonal relationship —, can strongly influence FFE stages to the consolidation of U-I partnerships for collaborative projects. This is relevant to leverage opportunities in new partnerships (BARNES; PASHBY; GIBBONS, 2002; BSTIELER; HEMMERT; BARCZAK, 2014; MORA-VALENTIN; MONTORO-SANCHEZ; GUERRAS-MARTIN, 2004; PLEWA et al., 2013). Moreover, studies associating these mediating factors to the interface made by university Technology Centers (TCs) — as university structures that explicit aim to develop and transfer technologies to companies (SANTORO; CHAKRABARTI, 1999) — are promising field of research, due to their impact potential on effectivity of TCs activities. For this purpose, adapted methods to capt perception factors, e.g. Kano et al. (1984), are promising approaches to this context.
The literature of U-I partnerships usually discuss technology transfer questions. This context highlights the need for new studies that go deeply in preliminary stages of the process of prospecting collaborative R&D projects, which includes the identification of factors that mediate the building of relationships between U-I during FFE.
Aware of the criticality of FFE stages to start U-I partnerships through R&D projects, this study aims to answer the following question, through a TC perspective: which mediating factors are present in these preliminary stages, and how are their influence perceived in the effectiveness of these partnerships in a TC?
Firstly, a bibliographical research in partnerships for innovation was done, aiming to map mediating factors that act during FFE stages to consolidate R&D project between U-I. It resulted in a conceptual model and framework of this literature. Afterwards, a study of Kano´s method —traditionally used in Quality Function Deployment studies for capturing perceptual complexities over quality elements— was made, which was the basis to its adaptation to this research context. From these inputs, a semi-open questionnaire was built and used to data collection in semi-structured interviews with TC stakeholders. Finally, all data were compiled, analyzed and used to results discussion.
The methodological strategy used to data collection was semi-structured interviews, with semi-open questionnaire. The interviews took on average one hour each and were carried out with three distinct groups of people: i) four collaborators of current or potential companies partners of the TC in R&D collaborative projects — the ones whom are closely related to demands of new R&D projects with the TC to be applied in different sectors of industry; ii) three TC researches — with different backgrounds — that are involved with FFE activities; and as control group iii) three people that work in different university structures, dealing with prospection and consolidation of R&D projects between U-I in different sectors. Data collection and analysis used an adaptation made in Kano´s Method (Kano et al. 1984), aiming to capt each group comprehension about the fifteen mediating factors maped. This approach allowed us analyse at least thirty convergences and divergences between university and industry point of view, about what do they think that influence the effectiveness of partnerships U-I through R&D projects, and consequently the implications of this in managing this partnerships. Finally, were indentified about eleven implications of this study in the TC studied, companies, literature and public politics.
The main deliver of this study was a model that indicates that the influence and importance given by industry to tacit and interpersonal aspects to enable partnerships U-I are considerably higher than the ones that university believe to have. Therefore, this means that there is a potential underestimation of the importance of these type of mediating factors by people at university. Moreover, this model also shows which mediating elements are present in FFE stages, and how is their influence perceived in effectiveness of U-I partnerships in a brazilian TC. For instance, was evident thecriticality of the mediating factors related to the way to engage with people (e.g. trust relationship, share information beyond the project, contract and intellectual property negotiations, champions of university and industry), as well as the ones related to credibility, scientific technical competence of university researchers’ group (e.g. history of work already done, reputation and repercussion). Moreover, other curious discovery is the identification of two other mediating factors that goes beyond the ones signaled at this field literature: presence of grant resources and spent time by company with the establishment, develop and monitoring the partnership —the last one brings a considerable different approach to the conventional literature.
Contribution to Scholarship
This research supports to cover a literature gap because it not only analyzes the perception of influence of mediating factors focused on FFE stages, but also compare two point of view: university and industry. The field literature mostly sees the process of set R&D projects between U-I as a whole, do not considering major differences of influence that mediating factors can have in stages with characteristics considerably distincts (as in FFE, that involve high uncertainty, complexity and risks). Moreover, the identification of convergences and divergences between university and industry perceptions about mediating factors, can strongly contribute to the preposition and adaptation methods applicable to this context. Finally, the adaptation and utilization of an unusual technique to this research field, Kano´s method, may contribute to the enrichment of broader research in the area of interinstitutional relations and other open innovation contexts, with similar bottlenecks to those found in the literature studied.
Contribution to Practice
The preposition and adaptation of methods applicable to this context can optimize the efforts expended by university and industry, in order to focus on what is important to meet each other's expectations properly, which is highly helpful for the TC studied. This can increase the number of U-I relationships, contribute that they happen more deeply, been perennial and reach better results. Moreover, for showing the complexity involved in developing relations on open innovation context, companies can use this study as input to a critical analysis of their performance. Finally, contributions could be seen in public politics that promote U-I partnerships.
This research is relevant to R&D Management Conference because “mediating factors” have a cross-cutting influence not only before and during R&D process, but also in technology management to generate innovation and impact society. Moreover, this study involved stakeholders in an upward knowledge area with high potential of breakthrough innovations: nanotechnology.
BARNES, T.; PASHBY, I.; GIBBONS, A. Effective University Industry Interaction: A Multi-case Evaluation of Collaborative R&D Projects. European Management Journal, v. 20, n. 3, p. 272-285, jun. 2002.
BSTIELER, L.; HEMMERT, M.; BARCZAK, G. Trust Formation in University-Industry Collaborations in the U.S. Biotechnology Industry: IP Policies, Shared Governance, and Champions*,†. Journal of Product Innovation Management, v. 32, n. 1, p. 111–121, jan. 2014.
KANO, N. et al. Attractive Quality and Must-Be Quality. The Journal of the Japanese Society for Quality Control, p. 39–48, 1984.
MORA-VALENTIN, E. M.; MONTORO-SANCHEZ, A.; GUERRAS-MARTIN, L. A. Determining factors in the success of R&D cooperative agreements between firms and research organizations. Research Policy, v.33, n.1, p.17–40, 2004.
PLEWA C. et al. The evolution of university–industry linkages - A framework. Journal of Eng. and Technology Management, v. 30, p. 21–44, 2013.
SANTORO, M. D.; CHAKRABARTI, A. K. Building Industry-University Research Centers: Some Strategic Considerations. International Journal of Management Reviews, v. 1, n. 3, p. 225–244, set. 1999.
Involving the crowd – How to involve the public in research and technology transfer – New dimensions of participation
1Fraunhofer IMW, Germany; 2TU Berlin, Germany
Recent debates about the third mission of research organizations focusses on the engagement with market demands and societal needs, i.e. the transition and exploitation of research results for the industry (OECD 2013). A rather recent scholarly approach addresses the link between the research organizations’ activities and their socio-economic context (Swilling et al 2016).
Transdisciplinary or participatory research and knowledge is co-produced with societal actors in order to generate solutions for real-world problems. A particular challenge when conducting transdisciplinary research is the engagement with non-academic actors for joint problem formulations since the transformation is characterized by high levels of complexity and social fluidity (see, e.g., Manson, 2001; Swilling et al., 2016). Over the last three decades, the importance of participatory approaches has increased in research, public planning and (open) innovation (Chesbrough 2003; Seltzer & Mahmoudi 2012). Participation and networking are referred to as megatrends of the future and thus various participatory approaches have developed, such as Fablabs/ Makerspaces Citizen Science, Sharing economy, Crowdsourcing- funding and - science and Co-Production (Hossain & Kauranen 2014). With regard to supporting the transition and exploitation of research results, the question arises how researchers can benefit from the active integration of research organizations’ socio-economic contexts.
Our paper addresses new dimensions of involving the public in technology transfer. We argue that the integration of the public crowd during the ideation phase eases up the transition of knowledge from research organization to the market. We particularly provide experiences from workshops conducted in open public spaces.
The paper aims to a better understand the factors and context(s), which allow the beneficiary use of the public in transferring research results from research organizations to the industry. The research questions is: Which dimension affect the efficient involvement of the public crowd in formulating research ideas and knowledge transfer?
We use a mixed approach based on a comprehensive literature analysis and a field experiment. The field experiment was part of a Fraunhofer research project. It was a workshop, designed as “participatory future lab” in a public place (museum) with the aim to collect future needs, visions & ideas of the public on three key themes in the life sciences: health, nutrition and sustainable consumption. The results serve as inspiration for future research proposals. The analysis is done with grounded theory.
We collected the following data during the field experiment: participatory observation in form of field protocols, interviews and feedback sheets from the participants.
This research aims to provide factors, which determine the effective use of participatory approaches to transfer research results from research organizations to the industry. Participative formats address various phases, such as the ideation phase (e.g. crowdsourcing, open innovation, hackathon, co-design), but can also be found in the conduct of research (e.g. real laboratories, bio-hacking, citizen science, maker movement). The preliminary results of ou field experiment demonstrate the relevance of the following dimensions: input factors (exhibition, presentations, text, experiments etc.); throughput factors (video, roadmaps, prototypes etc.); output / Outcome factors (purpose); side effects (inform the public etc.);use of ideation methods & toolkits (prototyping, storyboards, idea walls etc.); target group(s); role of space (museum vs. etc.), topic related factors (complexity etc.); transfer phase and presence/ absence of future users (researchers and practitioner). Additionally we show in our model how these dimensions interact with each other, e.g. “The higher the complexity of the topic, the more concrete the ideation task has to be.” or “The older the audience the more guidance they need”.
Contribution to Scholarship
Studying the example of participatory future labs in museums, the paper offers particular suggestions on how to foster such workshops and involve the public effectively. This paper is of importance since it contributes to the discourse on the third mission, and particularly bridging the gap between research, society (public) and industry. This paper stresses the role of (adequate) place and space, the role of (guiding) information and interactive creative tools. Additionally, further research should examine how other groups of society react to such events and how the provision of more or less information and tools can guide the public’s contributions. Finally, the presence of researchers and practitioners in such processes needs testing.
Contribution to Practice
The findings provide a better understanding on the influencing factors, such as place and space, interior design, the form and type of knowledge provided, the types of interaction offered. Since the results are embedded in the field crating future visions in the life sciences, it is open to question to what extend the presence/absence of researchers and practitioners (businesses) would have changed the results of the crowd.
It is of relevance for the conference theme, because it is about (1) transferring knowledge from research to the market by (2) examining an approach that involves the society. It is especially important for the session topic since it focusses on the ideation phase (part of the fuzzy front end).
Chesbrough, H., Vanhaverbeke, W., & West, J. (Eds.). (2006). Open innovation: Researching a new paradigm. Oxford University Press on Demand.
Hossain, M., & Kauranen, I. (2015). Crowdsourcing: a comprehensive literature review. Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, 8(1), 2-22.
Manson, S. M. (2001). Simplifying complexity: A review of complexity theory. Geoforum, 32(3), 405–414. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7185(00)00035-X.
OECD, (2013): Commercialising Public Research: New Trends and Strategies. Online available: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/science-and-technology/commercialising-public-research-new-trends-and-strategies_9789264193321-en .
Seltzer, E., & Mahmoudi, D. (2013). Citizen participation, open innovation, and crowdsourcing: Challenges and opportunities for planning. Journal of Planning Literature, 28(1), 3-18.
Avelino, F., Grin, J., Pel, B., & Jhagroe, S. (2016). The politics of sustainability transitions. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 18(5), 557-567.
Structural industrial change resulted by forthcoming energy technologies. Context of Finland.
The climate change problem attracts increasing attention of scholars and practitioners. The COP21 Paris agreement underlies the decision of many countries to obtain a zero emission by 2050. The last means the considerable reduction of fossil fuel usage. Thus, the new energy supply circumstances will change soon for many actors.
The renewable electric energy tends widely to replace the demand based on fossil fuel. However, electricity can’t replace hydrocarbons in all industries. The recent studies propose a number of scenarios for electric energy conversion and storage technology development, as well as cost models for their implementation (Fasihi at al., 2017). Some of the Power-to-X technologies are already implemented on the commercial bases. For instance, the plants employing Power-to-Gas (Breyer at al., 2015) and Gas-to-Liquids (Wood at al., 2012) technologies exist already. Some other technologies like Power-to-Liquids that convert electricity directly into synthetic liquid fuels are ready to be commercialized (König at al, 2015). There are also technologies known on converting the solar photovoltaic and wind electric energy into fuel (Hannula&Kurkela, 2013). The forthcoming technologies based on the conversion of renewable energy into Power-to-X more likely will form a new supply-demand energy market pattern soon (Alvarado, 2016).
Despite of the numerous publications dealing with the perspectives of future technologies the overall overview on what changes in different industries the last would provoke is missing. Thus, to compile the review on the Finnish industry transformation resulted by energy market change seems to be urgent.
The research question of our integrative literature review is to analyze and structure the existing knowledge on the potentialities and the attractiveness of the forthcoming energy technologies as well as their expected impact on Finnish industrial landscape transformation.
I order to answer the research question we made search over the top peer reviewed journals published during the period of 2000-2018 by “Elsevier”, “Wiley & Sons”, “Emerald”, “Springer Nature” and some other well known publishers.
A set of keywords was selected, including, as an example, the following: “Power-to-X”, “Power-to-Gas”, “ Power-to-Liquids”, “Industrial transformation”, ”Finland”.
On the top of academic publications that construct the academic knowledge related part of the report we also investigated and incorporated into the special part of the review some other publications that relate to strategy development of the core companies of Finland.
Not relevant to our study
Taking the integrative approach, we learned that the number of publications on the topic demonstrated the increase in growth since 2010. Based on the search we selected more than150 papers that are pertained to answering the research question.
In our study we investigated and integrated the energy technology development scenarios obtained from the literature. The analysis of what these technologies could mean for the Finnish industrial landscape has been made. Because of the expected energy supply-demand market pattern change, the transformation of the majority of industries is inevitable. As Finland hasn’t got broadly diversified industry scope, we believe that the serious focus should be made on the matters related to the transformational change of the companies that would have the most potential by 2050. The special attention should be paid to those companies that are based totally on fossil fuel or on large volume of electric power. The future country economy will very much depend on what would be the strategic choice of such companies in terms of their core product technologies as an internal factor and electric energy and fuel costs as external factors. The last factors in turn will substantially depend on available power conversion and storage technologies.
Contribution to Scholarship
The main theoretical contribution of our study consists in providing the integrative release of the possible forthcoming Finnish industry transformation resulted by forthcoming energy technologies. The study made an attempt to outline the major perspectives and risks of the coming change in the energy marketplace.
In particular we have analyzed the publications on various Power-to-X technologies as well as on models for the Capex and Opex price levels in the future. We extrapolate these technologies and models onto development of existing core industries of Finland in the future. One of the main contributions provided by our research is that in general different industries have their own way to develop under the given circumstances. Some of them need to be rally recstructured to meet the forthcoming energy related requirements. To our best knowledge there is not much studies that offer the overall perspective in that field.
Contribution to Practice
On the practical side the study is beneficial for business leaders and policy makers in terms of providing some insight on how the Finnish industries might develop. Regardless the fact that the study was carried out in the context of Finnish industries, the practical results of the research can be used in much broader scope in terms of both countries and industries. It also provides a novel method of analyzing the future relations between electric energy generation market and energy consuming industries, as well as one for modeling the future of an industry transformation resulted by forthcoming energy technologies.
Our study directly relates to the main theme of the conference because it brings to light the problem of industry transformation due to the forthcoming energy technologies. Obviously, both the forthcoming disruptive technologies and the new pattern of industry will have the considerable impact on the society.
Alvarado, M., 2016. The changing face of the global methanol industry, IHS Chemical Bulletin, no. 3, pp. 10–11.
Breyer Ch., Tsupari E., Tikka V., Vainikka P., 2015. Power-to-Gas as an Emerging Profitable Business through Creating an Integrated Value Chain, Energy Procedia, 73, 182-189.
Fasihi, M., Bogdanov, D. and Breyer, C. (2017). Long-Term Hydrocarbon Trade Options for the Maghreb Region and Europe—Renewable Energy Based Synthetic Fuels for a Net Zero Emissions World. Sustainability, 9(2), p.306.
Hannula, I. and Kurkela, E., 2013. Liquid transportation fuels via large-scale fluidised-bed gasification of lignocellulosic biomass, VTT Technology 91, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Espoo, p. 114.
König D. H., Freiberg M., Dietrich R.-U., Wörner A., 2015. Techno-economic study of the storage of fluctuating renewable energy in liquid hydrocarbons. Fuel, 159, 289–297.
Wood D.A, Nwaoha Ch., Towler B.F., 2012. Gas-to-liquids (GTL): A review of an industry offering several routes for monetizing natural gas. J. Natural Gas Science and Engineering, 9, 196-208.