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Economic Geography, Regional Development and Planning

PhD Project

Knowledge transfer in Regional Innovation Systems

PhD Candidate Randi Elisabeth Taxt presents her PhD Project.

Stipendiat Randi Taxt.
PhD Candidate Randi Elisabeth Taxt.
Photo:
BTO

In my PhD project I will investigate how actors within universities, industry and public sector interact to utilise research results. I will specially emphasis the role of universities and other research organisations within their region.

The importance of research for innovation

The world economy is in change and utilising research is considered vital in favour 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) in order 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 instruments. In addition, some critical voices are asking for better incentives for research-based innovation and the the role, tasks, and benefits of the TTOs are questioned.

Through a public sector Ph.D funded by the Research Council of Norway, I will examine universities and research institutions and their TTOs in selected regions in Europe. In particular, the relationship between the various TTO functions, industrially supported research projects and the establishment of commercialization projects will be investigated. I will do my research within the framework of Regional Innovation Systems (RIS), which are described as networks of interconnected actors, organised around a value chain or industry within a distinct geographical area. This can typically be a city or a municipality and the actors come from both private and public sector. A well-functioning RIS is characterized by good interactions between research and development actors, market actors and political actors.

My research questions

The main question my PhD-project seeks to illuminate is:
How is the TTO-function influenced by, and how does it affect, Regional Innovation Systems?

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 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.