The Role of Promoter in the Context of University-Industry Cooperation: The REDOMIC Project

The Role of Promoter in the Context of University-Industry Cooperation: The REDOMIC Project

Eva-María Mora-Valentín (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain) and Braulio Pérez-Astray (A Coruña University, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-341-6.ch008
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In an open innovation scenario, organizations increasingly rely on external sources through interorganizational networks. In this chapter, the authors study the role played by the promoters in facilitating and maintaining university-firm relationships. To do so end, they have analyzed the relationship promoter model and examined his or her role in the REDOMIC project, whose purpose is to match university supply with firm demand effectively. After analysing the characteristics of the promoter role, they propose an innovative methodology that will enable supply and demand. The processing of this information at a later stage through a computer system enables us to identify matches that can then form the basis of future partnership agreements between universities and firms.
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The open innovation paradigm has emphasised the importance of a wide range of external actors and sources to achieve and sustain innovation. Rather than relying on internal R&D, organizations are reported to increasingly engage in open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003; 2006). This means that they have changed the do-it-yourself option in the innovation process by a rich picture of different partners working together (Laursen and Salter, 2006). Thus, the open innovation model redefines the boundaries between firms and their environments. These boundaries become ambiguous, emerging networks of different actors who act individually and together to achieve their goals (Santamaría, Nieto & Barge-Gil, 2010). So, innovation can be regarded as resulting from distributed interorganizationl networks, rather than from single firms (Coombs, Harvey & Tether, 2003).

If these considerations hold for innovation related interorganizational links in general, links between public research organizations and firms represent and special case. The economic and social benefits of universties have long been recognized as an important source of innovation (Mansfield, 1991; Cohen, Nelson & Walsh, 2002). The concept of open, networked and interactive innovation, would suggest that actual relationships between universities and industry play a stronger role in generating innovations (Perkmann & Walsh, 2007). In their study, authors purpose a research agenda about how to establish and manage university-industry relationships in an open innovation scenario. Considering the wider spectrum of science-industry links, some studies recommend establishing different types of network of innovators bridging the boundaries of firms and universities (Powell & Grodal, 2005).

In this specific context of special links, the role that networks play in the transfer of technology from universities to industry is of particular interest. Although this relationship has only been developing gradually and clearly shows that the university R&D transfer system has matured2, it has yet to reach desired levels (RedOTRI Universities Report, 2004). It is worth remembering that differences between academia and business in terms of timescales for fulfilling objectives, the protection of results and confidentiality, etc., often place a strain on relationships between firms and universities and impede effective technology transfer and its exploitation for innovation purposes (Mora-Valentín, 2000). The availability of reliable and timely information is essential for improving links between the supply and demand of knowledge since managing information that is applicable to both knowledge centres and firms facilitates the design of cooperation networks that can be tailored to the interests and needs of both types of organization (Pérez-Astray & Bravo-Juega, 2002).

At this point, we may very well ask if, despite these differences, it is possible for effective cooperation to exist between universities and firms. There are in fact many examples of cooperation that attest to the fact that formal, long-term university-industry relationships are completely feasible, although they can often be frustrated by the barriers and obstacles that currently exists (Geisler, Furino & Kiresuk, 1990). Being aware of potential problems can, in fact, enable universities and firms to respond appropriately to mitigate their effects, which would go far to improving the chances of success. Several studies have examined the potential obstacles in this type of cooperative relationship, and, interestingly, certain measures have been proposed to ensure more effective management of partnerships and mitigate the negative consequences that problems can cause (Montoro-Sánchez & Mora-Valentín, 2006).

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