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Nordic Competence Centres as Hybrid Research Environments

Prof. Jari Kuusisto & Prof. Martin Meyer

University of Sussex 11-14 July 2011 Triple Helix IX International Conference Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA

Jari Kuusisto and Martin Meyer

Evolving nature of R&D activities
Significant changes have taken place over the recent years Important one is evolving interface between science and industry There is also a shift from pure technology development towards productservice based solutions

The raise of Open and User Innovation paradigm

The scope and nature of innovation activities has become much broader There are many new sources of innovation, new actors and objectives that R&D management needs to tackle New research and innovation environments are emerging, they aim to make research more user-relevant and tend to operate in an open innovation mode

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Hybrid research organisations

User-driven competence centres can be seen as prime examples of hybrid research organisations
They seek to facilitate needs-driven basic research in what has become known as Pasteurs quadrant. Increasingly this type of research is performed in a context that reaches beyond typical academic or industrial labs, and can best be characterized as hybrid environments.

This research provides insights from a study of Nordic user-driven competence centres
Study was commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers / NICE

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Outline of the research

Research questions
What is the structure of the User Driven Competence Centre (UDCC) like? What types of processes are required in the development and management of UDCC? What are the key activities of the UDCC? How the evaluation and monitoring of UDCC can be organised?

Research data
Literature and policy documents Personal semi-structured interviews in 5 countries 12 high level experts and competence centre staff

Literature review and policy document analysis Qualitative analysis of interview material, data triangulation

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Key concepts

Jari Kuusisto and Martin Meyer

User-driven - what it means?

User-driven innova7on
Business driven R&D&I

Developing understanding on users needs

New research methods that provide in-depth understanding on user needs

Users as R&D&I actors and resources

New level of Interac8on gives Users more power & responsibili8es in the R&D&I process

User innova7ons and their commercializa7on

Users develop innova8ons for their own purposes; this provides businesses with new ideas and commercial opportuni8es
Kuusisto, 2009

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Evolving R&D activities

User centric Open R&D and innova7on process -U8lisa8on of internal and external resources -Sophis8cated user needs analysis -Ethnography -User communi8es and social media Tradi7onal R&D process -Internal R&D&I -Tradi8onal market research -Product and technology focus Joint innova7on projects -Commercializa8on of innova8ons developed by users -User generated content -PlaIorms that support user innova8on

Producers opera7onal mode

User innova7ons -Users develop innova8ons for their own needs -U8lisa8on of s8cky informa8on

Product and produc8on centric


Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer


Users role


Competence centres
Hybrid research organization



Public sector

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

User-driven Competence Centre Key characteristics

Jari Kuusisto and Martin Meyer

Setting up a hybrid organization

Priori8sed development areas given broad focus areas
Broad framework for user driven R&D&I ac8vi8es

Connec8ng with wider society and SMEs Knowledge dissemina8on ac8vi8es

Recruitment of industry and academia

Leading edge businesses and research performers

Organising of structure and key processes Recruitment of key personnel

Small team of high calibre individuals

Assisted but user driven organisa8on of R&D&I ac8vi8es

Research programme development

Joint development eorts between academia and industry

Research programme and proposals for funding agencies Go / No Go decisions for research projects

Internal and external research performers draX proposals for funding bodies

Research programme kick o, and / or development of new proposals


Feed back and development of Competence Centre ac8vi8es Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Monitoring and external evalua8ons of ac8vi8es


Emergent Innovation Environments

Competence Centres portray diversity of approaches
In terms of their structures Separate legal entity University institute Virtual network Size and scope of research activities Resources in terms of Budget and personnel Position and influence in the national innovation system National flagship organisations Limited piloting activities


Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Emergent Innovation Environments II

Strive towards user orientation varies significantly
Some Centres adopted well tested approaches moving beyond traditional R&D Yet they are still hosted by universities and research institutes and very focused on a given area of science and technology Others seek to create genuinely new environments for user oriented innovation Research and innovation activities are coordinated by third entity, e.g. a publicly listed company, in which industrial partners, universities and research institutes are shareholders Companies as users - rather than researchers - set the research agenda Their mission to bring about industrial renewal and breakthrough innovations


Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Mapping of competence centres

Broad range of topics
SHOK Strategic Centre of Excellence Finland

Scope of topics
VINN Excellence Centres Sweden COE Iceland

GTS Ins8tutes Denmark

SFI/CRI Centres Norway

Topical focus

Science push Mode of innova7on

User needs orienta8on


Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Competence centres - value added

Clarifies the division of labour:
a. Basic research is science for the sake of science b. Competence centre is a platform for strategic needs driven basic research and c. Business R&D&I aims at results that can be brought on the markets

User involvement and close cooperation with the research community

d. Secures needs driven (market pull) character of research programmes e. Better relevance of the research f. Can lead into faster lead times from research to markets


Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Competence centres - value added

Can significantly cut down fragmentation typical of R&D&I projects -> benefits the industry Competence centres positioning as national flagships
They bring together in the same organisational setting leading businesses and top research organizations

Public funding
Secures status as pre-commercial research aiming at commercialized outcomes in 5-10 years time The key role of public funding is to act a catalyst, it is not the cause itself

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

New concept
How to sell it to the different parties? How to organize the setting effectively avoiding unwanted administrative burden?

Developing a true strategic needs driven basic research agenda

Researchers want basic research Business seek to expand their conventional R&D and bring results on the markets quickly Need to find a balance and keep it

Novel way of open collaboration

Requires trust between the parties What will be shared? What will be proprietary knowledge (IPR)?

Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer

Strategic Centres of Excellence in Finland

Forest cluster: Forestcluster Ltd Information and communication industry and services: TIVIT Ltd Metal products and mechanical engineering: FIMECC Ltd Energy and the environment: CLEEN Ltd Built environment innovations: RYM Ltd Health and well-being: SalWe Ltd


Jari Kuusisto & Martin Meyer