Human Geography
PhD project

Technology and knowledge transfer in innovation ecosystems

PhD Candidate Randi Elisabeth Taxt presents her PhD Project.

Stipendiat Randi Taxt.
Stipendiat Randi Elisabeth Taxt.

Main content

In my PhD project I will investigate how actors within universities, industry and public sector collaborate to utilise research results.

The importance of research for innovation

The world economy is in change and utilising research is considered vital in favor of benefitting future economic, environmentally, and societal challenges. Because they are sources of scientific knowledge, technologies and education, universities are therefore very important actors in this realm. Universities are also sources of innovative ideas, many with the potential for radical changes. Most universities and research institutions make use of a technology transfer office (TTOs) to help with many of their innovation and commercialisation activities. However, several limiting factors for research-based innovation have been identified. Some examples are the lack of entrepreneurial culture, access to entrepreneurs, access to early-stage risk capital and lack of interaction between the various players and funding instruments. In addition, some critical voices are asking for better incentives for research-based innovation and the role, tasks, and benefits of the TTOs are also questioned.

Through a public sector PhD funded by the Research Council of Norway, I will examine some selected universities in Europe and their TTOs. In particular, the relationship between the various TTO functions, industrially supported research projects and the establishment of commercialisation projects will be investigated. I will do my research within the framework of innovation ecosystems, which are described as networks of interconnected actors, typically universities, public organisations, established industry, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.

My research questions

The main question my PhD-project seeks to illuminate is:

How is the knowledge and technology transfer effected by, and how does it affect the innovation ecosystems?

I will collect information in the form of quantitative data describing different scientific, economic, and societal links to and from universities and research institutions. I will further conduct interviews with central actors behind these links. My aim by this approach is to gain a deeper understanding of what is important for industry, society, and academic collaboration. The different mechanisms and relations important for transferring knowledge and technology will be of special interest in my project. An important part of the project will be done as an extension of the Horizon2020 project European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster (EMBRIC brings Europe’s Marine Blue Bio-Economy forward | EMBRIC (ugent.be ) to foster the Blue Bioeconomy, EMBRIC. Many, but not all, of the examples and cases used in this PhD project will therefore be derived within the marine sector from partners in the EMBRIC project. In addition, a part of my PhD study will be in collaboration with the Mohn Centre for Innovation and Regional Development at HVL, where we investigate academic spin-offs within life sciences.