Teachers, researchers, but not innovators? Rethinking university-industry collaboration

Heléne Lundberg, Christina Öberg
2021 The journal of business & industrial marketing  
Purpose Universities, when collaborating with industry, are generally assumed to be the motors for innovation. Inspired by a case on a university's collaboration with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a regional strategic network (RSN), this paper aims to put forth how the university makes important contributions through transferring knowledge on innovation processes that is a teaching role, rather than sees itself as the party producing innovations. This paper describes and
more » ... s the university's teaching role and its consequences in university-industry collaborations for innovation. Design/methodology/approach Empirically, the paper departs from a mid-Swedish RSN where nine SMEs started to work with a university. Interviews with representatives of the nine SMEs participating in the innovation project, along with university and RSN representatives, comprise the main data source. The paper analyzes the university's teaching role and the consequences of it. Findings Findings point at how the SMEs developed structured innovation processes, improved their market intelligence and increased their efficiency in providing new solutions. The university facilitated knowledge, while the SMEs responded through creating knowledge both on how to innovate and in terms of innovations. Originality/value The teaching role, which would mean that the university stays with one of its core functions, indicates a need to rethink university-industry collaboration related to expectations and role division. Moving from producing innovations to facilitating knowledge on how to innovate, would, for universities, mean that they minimize those conflicts emerging from their various roles and indicate that the production of innovation is placed at those devoted to run and grow businesses.
doi:10.1108/jbim-03-2020-0126 fatcat:pho74gtfrvbwdoeodnqthuu65m