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Technology Intermediaries In Low Tech Sectors: The Case Of Collective Research Centres In Belgium

A. Spithoven, M. Knockaert
Published 2012 · Economics

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Abstract Firms have become increasingly open towards collaboration to become more innovative. Opening up the innovation process and letting knowledge percolate through the boundaries of the firm is however not a guarantee to success. Many small and medium sized firms simply have insufficient resources to collaborate on innovation and lack in-house absorptive capacity to capture the results thereof In Belgium the collective research centres have specialised in various activities related to R&D collaboration and technology transfer. As such they act as technology intermediaries. This paper positions these particular players in the innovation system. Further, it provides an insight into how collective research centres help firms, many of which are low tech SMEs, to build absorptive capacity for R&D activities. In this way, this paper aims at filling a gap in the literature, which has mainly focused on technology transfer in high tech sectors, technology transfer from universities to companies and government initiatives that stimulate tech transfer. We find that collective research centres are unique actors in the innovation system, engaging in both R&D and technology transfer activities to an extent that depends on their size, R&D budgets and number of members and aiming at strengthening the members’ absorptive capacity.
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