A study analyzes the role of universities and technology institutes in firm innovation

June 6, 2011

Universities and technology institutes are organisms with distinct objectives with different clients in the business sector. However, the existence of complementarity in their actions for fomenting innovation in firms makes promoting more interaction between universities, technology institutes and firms recommendable. This is the main conclusion of a Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) study which analyzes the role of these institutions as partners in innovation.

The objective of this research work focuses on analyzing the functioning of the technology centers and evaluating the results obtained in fomenting innovation and competitivity in companies and universities. In the majority of , technology institutes are considered an important element of national and regional technology structure; these companies offer a wide array of services, ranging from applied research and technological development to other support services, such as consulting, diagnostic and technical assistance. The Spanish technology institutes are non-profit and their funding is a mixed system with a growing portion of private contracts.

This study, published in the journal European Planning Studies by the researchers, Aurelia Modrego and Luis Santamaría from UC3M, and Andrés Barge, from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), concluded that technology centers and universities have different kinds of clients among the business sector. "But it can't be deduced from this if the role of these institutions is more necessary or more useful in one case or another, because their actions in the firm sector are chiefly complementary, and not only foment competition between one other, but should also foment and strengthen their interaction," remarked professor Aurelia Modrego, from the UC3M Department of Economics.

The complementarity between these institutions is fundamentally based on two aspects. In the first place, in relation to the type of clients that they collaborate with: while the universities usually do so with larger firms with a greater capacity to carry out R + D activities, the technology institutes frequently collaborate with smaller companies (SME) that are less able to take on research work. In the second place, in relation to the type of service, since the universities focus more on develop R + D projects and the technology centers, in addition, offer services that contribute to firms introducing organizational innovations, marketing, etc.

This line of research forms part of a wider project that until now has been carried out in three large phrases. In the first one, a minuscule analysis was made of the functioning of the technology centers based on information that the researchers asked for through case studies and interviews. "The ample participation of the centers and the quality of their answers allowed us to determine with in-depth detail the vision, strategy and action of this collective of institutions from different perspectives (operative, financial, organizational and relational); this allows us to obtain a characterization and classification of the technology centers," professor Modrego explained. In the second part, with collaboration from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (National Statistics Institute), the researchers were able to compare actions with other institutions, such as universities. The objective of the third part, in which they are currently working, is to measure the effect of the technology centers on innovative firm activity. "Until now we have focused on observing which organizations serve which type of companies, while at present we are taking the next step, which to try to analyze the impact on companies in relation to universities and the technology institutes, at the same time analyzing the role that the scientific and technology centers play as energizing forces in these types of relations," the UCM professor, Andrés Barge, pointed out.

Explore further: Profiting on the Internet

Related Stories

Profiting on the Internet

March 17, 2010

Despite the hyperbole, there are many examples that prove that business use of the Internet is not always profitable, the bursting of the dot.com bubble aside. Now, a Tunisian researcher reports in the International Journal ...

Business getting the most from research

November 10, 2010

Management and business performance, rather than technological innovation, is the main focus for companies collaborating with universities, according to major survey of businesses conducted by the Centre for Business Research ...

A study analyzes the actual role of R+D's in patents

April 25, 2011

A research study at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain, which analyzes the relationship between R+D and patents, for the first time has estimated the role that secret innovations play, determining that the effects of ...

Recommended for you

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.