Universities role in society for the generation and diffusion of knowledge



Universities play a important function in society for the coevals and diffusion of cognition. In recent old ages, the university is presuming a ‘third mission ‘ , lending to society and economic development more straight. This new mission has been coined as the “ entrepreneurial university ‘ ( Martinelli et al. , 2008 ) . The greater engagement of academe in invention procedures is expected to take to a higher alliance of university and modern societies. There are monolithic possible benefits in associating the human capital of Universities with the problem-solving demands of industry.

In this manner, academe has shown an increasing battle with industry in a scope of different activities, such as networking, consultancy, contract research, creative activity of spin-out and start-up companies, licensing, joint research, etc. ( D’Este and Patel, 2007 ) .

Despite the great potency of university-industry interactions, there are of import barriers, which limit the impact of their interactions. Both types of organisations operate under really different civilizations, which translates in a great figure of failures in the transportation of cognition and invention procedures. Ultimately there is a large barrier between the commercial research attack and the classical ‘blue sky ‘ basic research traditionally undertaken by Universities ( Conway and Steward, 2009 ) .

Intermediary organisations can play a important function in make fulling this spread ( Howells, 2006 ) . They can be particularly of import in diminishing failure rates in invention procedures by playing different functions ( Suvinen et al. , 2010 ) . Birmingham is one of six Science Cities, announced by the Treasury in spring 2005. The enterprise aims to lend to a knowledge-driven growing by developing and utilizing scientific discipline and engineering to better the prosperity and quality of life of the city-region, the West Midlands and the UK. ( www.sss )

As a portion of the Birmigham Science City, a Research Alliance has been created between the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick to back up the research and industrial activities in the West Midlands. ( ref )

University of Warwick

Problem statement

The effectual constitution of webs of cooperation between industry and academe is a ambitious subject. They operate under wholly different and normally opposite civilizations, in footings of aims, ways of operating, clip graduated tables, etc.

An intermediary organisation can assist to get the better of these barriers in a figure of ways runing from easing contact, developing and fostering relationships, assisting to aim and pull off IP, proactively making physical installations, etc.

In the instance of webs of cooperation, the success depends to a big extent on the alliance of all the histrions involved. From a societal building position of invention, the perceptual experiences and outlooks about the cooperation procedure will hold an impact on behaviours and finally in the success or failure of the cooperation.

Purposes and aims

The chief aim of this work is to research the functions and benefits of intermediary organisation in the webs of cooperation between university and industry. The analysis is undertaken by agencies of a individual instance survey focused in the West Midlands. The interaction between industry and the University of Warwick mediated by the Science City Research Alliance has been studied to spot the benefits in footings of invention.

The survey is rooted in the societal building theory of invention, which surveies the human dealingss underlying a concern ( or an invention ) interaction. In this manner, a large accent will be placed in analyzing the perceptual experiences of the different histrions involved in the procedure about invention and the webs of cooperation established.As it has been antecedently mentioned perceptual experiences are of import because they deeply influence behaviours and finally will lend to the success or failure of the cooperations. The survey intends to place understanding and dissension points of the involved stakeholders about the transportation of cognition established between industry and academe mediated by the SCRA enterprise.

Thesis construction

Literature reappraisal

This subdivision aims to reexamine the nucleus literature employed to animate and develop this work.

Invention theoretical accounts

The chief invention theoretical accounts discussed in the literature are the scientific discipline and engineering push ( Rothwell, 2002 ) , the market need pull ( Langrish et al. , 1972 ) and the synergistic theoretical account. The “ push ” theoretical account assumes that the invention is generated from basic research from Universities and Research Centres. The “ pull ” theoretical account on the contrary, defends that invention is originated by a market demand that leads to orientate the scientific cognition towards the development of the new merchandises. Finally, the synergistic yoke is a non-linear combination of the other two, where all the elements in the invention concatenation are interconnected. This implies a closer contact and a flow of information between scientists and applied scientists and private and public administrations. ( Debackere and Rappa, 1992, Debackere 1994 ) .

Figure 1The synergistic matching theoretical account of invention ( adapted from Conway and Steward, 2009 ) .

The three theoretical accounts, and particularly the synergistic theoretical account, acknowledge an of import interaction between scientific activity, performed chiefly in academe, and industrial/business activities.

In recent times, scientific discipline and engineering have evolved towards more complex systems, which require a multidisciplinary attack and the usage of advanced and expensive equipment to cover with them expeditiously and efficaciously. The velocity with which invention must be made to work their commercial potency and the importance of invention to the regional and national development have changed the manner scientific discipline and research are undertaken in both the private and public sector ( Fagerberg et al. 2006 ) . It has become common to progressively trust on big, interdisciplinary, and progressively complex squads of research workers to work out disputing scientific and technological jobs ( Ziman 1984 ) .Therefore invention procedures are progressively being developed in webs, where different histrions contribute to the timely and efficient bringing of invention through the development of interactive relationships ( ref webs of invention ) .

It has been highlighted the function of seeking for external assetsto aid organisations to happen beginnings of assortment, leting them to make fresh merchandises and procedures, markets, etc. by new combinations of engineerings and cognition ( Nelson and Winter, 1982 ) . This assortment provides chances for houses to take among different technological waies ( Metcalfe, 1994 ) .

The useof a broad scope of external histrions and beginnings may assist the house to accomplish and prolong invention ( Chesbrough, 2003 ; Laursen and Salter, 2006 ) and hence a competitory advantage. Indeed, Becker and Dietz ( 2004 ) province that coaction with different spouses on research and development raises the chance of accomplishing merchandise invention. Multiple spouse collaborationsmight well enhance invention due to the superior sum and assortment of cognition involved, therefore enabling the confederation spouses to better their initial resource and accomplishment gifts. However, an increasein the figure of parties involvedrepresents greater hazards of timeserving behaviour. Nevertheless, the bottom line is thatvariety of cognition facilitates the advanced procedure by enabling persons to do fresh associations and linkages ( Cohen and Levinthal, 1990 ) .

The Triple Helix theoretical account

The antecedently discussed theoretical accounts have really of import deductions for faculty members, directors and policymakers, since it makes clear that effectual societal and organisational webs are important to invention procedures.

The function that authoritiess play in invention has significantly changed late. In the last decennaries, authoritiess have progressively emphasized a proactiverole, tackling scientific and proficient capacities in universities and industry to fuel invention by brokering the concerted development of early phase ( Bozeman and Dietz 2001 ) .In the UKaˆ¦.Escribir sobre EL function del gobierno apoyando Las politicas de innovacion con EL impacto ( sacar de la tesis de Scott ) .

A utile theoretical attack is the “ Triple Helix theoretical account ” coined by Henry Etzkowitz and Loet Leydesdorff. The Triple Helix theoretical account describes the kineticss of mutual university-industry-government relationships in the commercialisation of cognition and engineering. The theoretical account is based on the mutual linkages between the three spirals which dynamically drives invention. These linkages consist of different types of coactions, and they occur in different degrees of organisations. University-firm-government linkages may besides intensify from impermanent cooperation into strategic confederations, which create and transfer cognition and supply durable platforms of cooperation. ( Etzkowitz & A ; Leydesdorff, 1997 ; Leydesdorff, 1997 ; Leydesdorff & A ; Etzkowitz, 1997 ; Etzkowitz, 2006 ) .




Tri-lateral webs

and intercrossed establishments

One of the chief advantages of the Triple Helix theoretical account is that by simplifying the scope of histrions and their dealingss, it provides a simple model for analyzing invention webs. Furthermore, the theoretical account does non presume that any histrion would hold a decisive place in invention procedures. Alternatively, “ communications and outlooks that reshape the institutional agreements among universities, industries, and authorities bureaus ” are of importance ( Etzkowitz & A ; Leydesdorff, 2000, pp. 109-113 ) .

The chief unfavorable judgments faced by this theoretical account are that is excessively general to take into history the concrete socio-economic state of affairs of each part ( Lester, 2005 ) and industry-branch specific interactions, known as sectorals systems of invention ( Malerba 2002 ) . Furthermore, the function of mediators is non explicitly acknowledged.

Another point of involvement is the strength of the interactions. It can be considered that the ternary spiral cognition substructures are necessary but non sufficient for developing a knowledge-based economic system ( Leydesdorff and Fritsch, 2006 ) . The strength and the localisation of the interactions is polar for the effectivity of these systems ( Leydesdorff, 2006 ) . From an evolutionary position, it can be expected that the non-equilibrium kineticss of the knowledge-based society will ensue in some parts flourishingfaster despite the equilibrium seeking of the markets and redistribution national policies ( Aoki, 2003, Danell and Persson 2003, cited in Leydersdorff and Fritsch, 2003 ) .

Regional webs of invention

The SCRA enterprise can be considered a Triple Helix enterprise, where the authorities, via the Regional Development Fund, the HEFCE and European Regional Development Fund has funded an enterprise to advance the cooperation between University and Industry in the West Midlands. As a portion of their undertakings, the SCRA facilitates the interactions Academia-Industry and besides aids in possible interactions with authorities, such as support application for specific plans. However, the SCRA is a extremely regionally focussed enterprise.

It has been found in the literature that the function of university furthering invention depends on the regional context ( Hussler et al. , 2010 ) . Furthermore Lester ( 2005 ) pointed out that although it is common to happen many of the tools in each engineering transportation system, the type of activities used by universities to go more utile for regional economic demands go manus in manus with the regional development tracts. A more regionally based attack has been proposed whereuniversities should go ‘innovation-promoting hubs ‘ aligned with the regional demands and capablenesss from pioneers ( Hussler et al. , 2010 ) . Harmonizing to Cooke et Al. ( 1997 ) , ‘Danish houses echoed a failure at the beginning to fit what is mostly a little house economic system with the ‘absorptive capacity ‘ to derive advantage from the new engineerings coming on-stream. Where externalization involves planetary interactions, codified cognition can be exchanged moderately satisfactorily, but invention is closely bound up with silent knowledge-exchange. This is hard to accomplish at a distance and is of cardinal importance to understanding why regional bunchs or agglomerations ( Malmberg and Maskell, 1997 ) are so valuable a characteristic of innovation-based competitory advantage ‘ .

Medium-tech fabrication industry is the chief driver of the knowledge-based constellation in a regional economic system ( Leydersdorf and Fritsch, 2006 ) . This is likely due to the fact that while necessitating a large trade of invention, such industry is still labour intensive, supplying a wider benefit to the regional society.

Industry-Academia interaction

As antecedently mentioned, cooperation between University and Industry is a field of survey established three decennaries ago in a political attempt to increase the accent on the invention and to make closer linkages between basic research and broader socialstakeholders. From the late 1970s many states developed support mechanisms to promote greater interaction between universities and houses in the belief that industrial invention had to trust on academic research. The invention systems perspective ( Lundvall, 1992 ; Edquist, 1997 ) is considered at a national ( Freeman, 1995 ) and at regional degree ( Cooke et al. , 2000 ) .

There is a great trade of attending in the literature devoted to analyse the possible benefits that both parts can obtain from cooperations.

In first topographic point, industry benefits from the cognition generated at universities, includingnew theories, Torahs and scientific or proficient rules diffused through scientific publications ( Gibbons and Johnston, 1974 ; Salter and Martin, 2001 ) .Secondly, the human capital generated by academe is extremely good to industry. Universities produce skilled alumnuss who bring to houses ‘not merely a cognition of recent scientific research but besides an ability to work out complex jobs, execute research and develop thoughts ‘ ( Salter and Martin, 2001: 522 extracted from Bishop et Al. 2011 ) .The 3rd major part of university research to industrial invention occurs through the direct personal contacts forged between industrialists and members of the scientific community ( Bishop et al. 2011 ) . These links act as valuable beginnings of cognition that feeds into houses ‘ invention procedures.

In a context were invention is conducted in a more unfastened, networked manner than the traditionally in-house theoretical account and were many histrions are involved in the procedure it is important for the houses to develop ‘absorptive capacity ‘ in order to aim, assimilate and employ cognition external to the house ( Cohen and Levinthal, 1990 ) . The most of import additions from industry from interaction with universities are entree to cardinal apprehension ( science-push ) and direct aid in job resolution ( market-pull ) ( Bishop et al. , 2011 ) . Interesting penetrations from the same work are in first topographic point that interactions do non depend on R & A ; D strength from the house. Furthermore, it was found that geographical propinquity between the histrions is of significance for benefits associated with direct aid in job resolution. Hence, geographical propinquity facilitates the exchange of tacit and context-specific cognition.

From a strategic position, two chief theories explain the benefits derived from the intermediation procedure. In first topographic point, the dealing cost economic sciences ( TCE ) theory is utile to explicate the decrease in cost and hazard associated with the expensive R & A ; D activities necessary to develop new products.The 2nd point of position focal points in the non-finantial assets that any organisation needs to win in the market topographic point. The resource-based position ( RBV ) can be employed to analyse the webs of cooperation between university and academe ( Johnson, 2008 ) . Most of the jobs built-in to the cooperations between industry and academe are cultural and civilization can be considered as another resource. Hence, the houses able to set up fruitful cooperations with universities can hold more resources than rivals unable to gain from such interactions.

Sing the typology of interactions between academe and industry D’Este and Patel ( 2007 ) identified five different classs or channels:

Meetings and conferences:

Attendance at Industry sponsored meetings.

Attendance atConferences with industry-university engagement.

Consultancy and contract research:

Consultancy work ( commissioned by industry, no original research ) .

Contract research understandings ( commissioned by industry and undertaken merely by university research workers ) .

Creation of physical installations:

Puting up spin-off companies.

Creation of physical installations with industry support.


Post-graduate preparation in company ( e.g. joint supervising of PhDs )

Training company employees.

Joint research

Joint Research understandings.

In this manner in a regional context, academe contributes to local invention processes in a assortment of ways ( Lester, 2005 ) . The major focal point is on engineering transportation. Many universities seek to straight work their research lab finds by patenting and licencing rational belongings to local houses. But frequently this is non the most of import part. In add-on to their ain finds, universities can assist ( Lester, 2005 ) :

to bring forth new human capital.

to pull new human, cognition, and fiscal resources from elsewhere.

to accommodate cognition arising elsewhere to local conditions.

to incorporate antecedently separate countries of technological activity.

to unlock and airt cognition that is already present in the part but non being put to productive usage.

Harmonizing to the same survey, the typology of faculty members involved in interactions with industry depends strongly on single features instead than departmental or university orientations. Academic position was found to hold a positive impact on the assortment of interactions. Professors tend to prosecute more actively with industry than faculty members at an earlier calling phase. This is due to the possibility of purchase on their repute to increase their repute. However, a tendency is observed among younger faculty members in applied subjects, where immature research workers prosecute more intensively in a broader scope of interactions. An account to this could be the progressively positive perceptual experience of the battle with industry in the calling development.

As a portion of its built-in civilization, universities concentrate really heterogenous signifiers of cognition and this is reflected in the manner faculty members interact with industry ( Gulbrandsen et al. , 2011 ) . In general more senior, established, male faculty members with larger groups are more occupied with industry. Nevertheless there is an bing division between faculty members due to the different perceptual experience of value of protecting rational belongings ( IP ) ( Haeussler and Colyvas, 2011 ) . In the same work is reflected that those faculty members back uping bluish sky research are in favour of circulating scientific discipline, whereas those back uping proprietary scientific discipline are more prone to interact with industry.

Remarks on IPRaˆ¦

The interaction with scientific discipline stimulates houses innovativeness due to the diversified scope of cognition beginnings compared to intra-business interactions ( Kaufmann and Toedtling, 2001 ) . It was found in an empirical survey about several European parts that Universities stimulate and enable houses to present extremist invention more than other histrions involved in the procedure like clients for case. The consequences suggested that basic scientific discipline has a greater impact than applied undertakings in presenting extremist invention. Interestingly, the intermediary organisations were non found to act upon extremist invention. This does non intend that they have no influence in invention. A large accent is placed in the demand of a well working systemic diverseness, where the different histrions set up interactive webs of cooperation, but keeping the systemic diverseness, to better the advanced public presentation of the involved houses. Hence, cut downing the barriers for cooperation should non take to do all the operating rules of science-linked organisations similar to private concern sector. Diversity is a cardinal component for invention.

Despite the importance of the interactions between university and academe it has been acknowledged the ambitious nature of such interactions. Wholly different civilizations predominate in industry and academe, what is reflected in diverging ends, clip orientation and implicit in premises ( Conway and Steward, 2009 p. 385 ) .

In a survey about the two regional sectors of invention in Finland, Suvinen et Al. ( 2010 ) identified 13 challenges in the ternary spiral interactions ; from which 12 correspond to industry-university interactions ( Table 1 ) .

Table 1. Challenges in university-firm-government linkages ( from Suvinen et al. , 2010 )


Inside industry

Ill-defined linkages or deficiency of linkages between houses

Difficult planetary markets

In new concern

Lack of cognition about the Torahs of concern

Gap between scientific aspirations and successful entrepreneurship

Lack of investings

Need for wise mans

Small domestic markets-difficult planetary markets

University-firm linkages

Different research demands

Value of scientific research consequences in being commercialized

Research consequences do non pull houses

Lack of cognition about the Torahs of concern

Lost commercial potency

University – house – authorities linkages

Political fluctuations create discontinuity

Scientists are nescient about the behaviour of markets and how to run under the Torahs of concern. Harmonizing to industrial side, in some instances universities do non see the market demands and in others it is hard to happen common involvements. A large job for the research workers is that houses are non interested in a research innovation before the innovation starts being salable. ( Suvinen et al. , 2010 ) . The chief job in the joint undertakings industry-university arises from the confrontation of different research civilization and normative construction ( Kuttinlahti, 2005 ) .

The decrease of barriers to better university-industry interactions implies the decrease of systemic differences. Mechanisms to cut down the differences by making ‘bridges ‘ ore webs are necessary to this terminal. To execute this bridging map, intermediary and training maps are necessary ( Kaufmann and Toedtling, 2001 ) . Technology centres have non been really successful in exciting the cooperation between industry and academe. The traditional unidirectional transportation of cognition ( science-push theoretical account of invention ) is non sufficient ( Meyer-Krahmer and Schmoch, 1998 ) .

Intermediary organisations in invention

There have been many attempts to set up a typology of mediators. Figure 1 represents a five function theoretical account described by Gould and Fernandez ( 1989 ) . The impression of intermediation or securities firm in general involves the flow or exchange of resources from one histrion to another via an intermediary.

Figure 2.Five in writing types of interceding functions ( Gould and Fernandez 1989 ) . Note: grey points represent different histrions ; arrows indicate waies of cognition flows ; circles correspond to organisational boundaries. Black dotscorrespond to the mediators between the beginning and the receiver of the cognition.

In a comprehensive reappraisal, Howells ( 2006 ) showed the command heterogeneousness that exists in the literature sing definitions of mediators and identified the different possible functions in which an mediator can add value to an interaction of different histrions within a web.

Table 2. Typology of intermediation in the invention procedure ( Howells, 2006 ) .



Foresight and nosologies


Scaning and information processing


Knowledge processing, coevals and combination


Gatekeeping and brokering


Testing, proof and preparation


Accreditation and criterions


Regulation and arbitration


Intellectual belongings direction


Commercialization: working the results


Appraisal and rating of results

As a consequence of his survey, it was shown that mediators provide a much wider, varied and holistic function in invention than it is by and large acknowledged ( Howells, 2006 ) .

An intermediate organisation should either supply economic benefits ( harmonizing to TCE theory ) or strategic and organisational facets to the histrions involved ( RBV theory ) which compensates the cost incurred by the intermediation procedure ( Johnson, 2008 ) . In a survey about an intermediary organisation which conducts Triple Helix undertakings, Johnson ( 2008 ) identified a set of functions, resources and benefits of intermediate organisations.

Table 3Roles, resources and benefits of intermediate organisations in triple-helix coactions.


Resources provided via

Theoretical position

Specific benefits from prosecuting an intermediate organisation



Advice, support, people


Ensures mechanisms to cut down struggles originating from the distributed invention web

Allows for equity and equity in differences

Reduce clashs within the web

Sponsor/funds supplier



Provision of fiscal resources, peculiarly for SMEs

Enables the distribution of support to worthy technological development plans



Support, engineering


Legitimizes smaller engineering participants

Provides larger houses with entree to vetted technological developments

Separates the ‘chaff from the wheat ‘

Better transparence of engineering value

Technology agent



Provides engineering and cognition transportation mechanisms by centrally pull offing connexions

Facilitates the engineering web

Ensures a depository of technological cognition beginnings and expertness


direction supplier

Advice, support, people


Provides both little and big houses with a templet and resources to pull off

Allows for the direction of disturbed invention without direct intercession of authorities

There is besides unfavorable judgment to the function of mediators, with some writers reasoning that their impact in invention procedures is equivocal and their function is at interest ( Massa and Testa, 2008 ) . As the writers conclude from a survey of a sample of the Italian SME, there are profoundly different positions sing invention: its definition, the effectual policies to advance it, the function of intermediary establishments, etc. As respects intermediary establishments, the interviewed stakeholders from industry and academia conclude that they failed significantly indelivering the expected benefits in footings of support to invention activities. They claim that intermediary establishments, such as scientific discipline Parkss and university brooders, failed in the development of strong and operational ties between houses, universities, and other research establishments. ( Quintaset al. , 1992 ; Westhead and Cowling, 1995 ; Vedovello, 1997 ; Bakouros et al. , 2002 ) .

The societal building of Innovation.

Social constructionism is a sociologicaltheory, which considers how societal phenomena develop in societal contexts ( Berger and Luckmann, 1967 ) . For positive interactions in a cooperation web, it is of import that the different histrions have similar perceptual experiences, or there is a mechanism to reconciliate possible divergencies. In a triple-helix context or merely in a university-industry context, the really different ways in which the different histrions operate has been regarded as an of import barrier to cooperation and accordingly to invention. However, this barrier constitutes a large chance to those sectors, parts, bunchs or single houses and universities able to develop mechanisms to get the better of them, since they will obtain an of import competitory advantage over rivals unable to develop such links.

In order to develop and foster a relationship in webs from faculty members and industrial spouses, it is necessary to set more accent on edifice trust than in an intra-organizational or intra-sectorial relationship ( Porter-Liebeskind et al.,1998 ) .The writers highlight the function of trust among in heightening an organisation ‘s efficiency, flexibleness, legitimacy and ability to larn, while cut downing organisational costs. To a high extent, trust is based on informal ties formed through professional preparation and shared norms and pattern.