STEM Valorisation: From Challenges to Success!

We are going through really challenging times shaped with risks and limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, we are also witnessing great advancements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that affect the whole ecosystem by providing solutions to critical problems. The global health crisis is one of the environmental threats where STEM can transform industries that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. That is why it is crucial to encourage STEM focused valorisation which builds the foundation of transformation by transferring research results into valuable innovations. This transformation could only be realized with the proper valorisation of STEM related research to bring societal impact and go beyond patenting.

Today’s higher education institutions (HEIs) carry a third role as “entrepreneurial university”, in addition to their roles in research and education. However, we observe that HEIs are not able to sufficiently support their researchers in their entrepreneurial and valorisation activities. Researchers’ needs of training about valorisation is apparent. This gap is the major motivation of our project – “STEM Valorisation Training Programme”—supported by the European Union.

Lighthouse Stories

We aim to shed light to the journey of STEM researchers by conducting interviews with key personnel within the process of valorisation. The main idea underlying this exploratory approach is to meet the researchers who successfully transferred scientific knowledge into practice in order to create a positive impact on society. Depending on the stakeholders involved in the valorisation activity, not only STEM researchers, but supporting actors such as knowledge and/or technology transfer professionals will also be interviewed. We aim to understand the roles of the key people, methods used to create value through university-industry collaboration, as well as the drivers and barriers in this co-creation process.

The stars of these so-called lighthouse stories are of course the STEM researchers! We are curious about how research outputs are transferred into products or services; how significant and measurable are their impact beyond pure academic context. We will be focusing on both success and challenge stories, trying to capture the obstacles as well as the driving forces of the valorisation process, and the structure of collaborative systems in the process. That is how this project embraces diversity and inclusivity in terms of many aspects: (1) All partners will bring stories equally representing different geographical regions, from south to north and east to west of Europe. (2) The stories collected will include both successful and less successful valorisation processes, directing the attention not solely on the success factors, but also on the barriers  and lessons learned. (3) We also aim to balance between the role of the researchers and supporting professionals in valorisation to include non-academic actors’ perspectives. Further, (4) diversity representing valorisation activities across disciplines as well as (5) diversity in experience including the individual’s past valorisation activities will be considered while acquiring information via our qualitative research.

Consequently, we will create a digital database of selected stories of STEM researcher experiences, highlighting their journeys of valorisation revealing the enabling and impeding factors. This digital content will be enriched by short videos, exposing the audience to the key motivations, drivers, barriers, and impact relating several valorisation journeys.

Outcomes

We expect that the lighthouse stories will show the pathways of STEM researchers at the early stage as well as the potential ones by presenting valorisation from a multi-stakeholder perspective and as a process of multiple factors, mechanisms and interventions. The valorisation journey as reported by selected STEM researchers will provide insight about their motivations, expectations, methods to overcome the challenges, approaches to benefit from the enabling drivers, and describe the factors that are relevant to consider for developing STEM valorisation capabilities within the universities with different contextual and background attributes.  These insights will shape our plans in developing a training programme to encourage and accelerate STEM valorisation and thereby serve researchers to construct a better future for the society.

Featured image by Devon Rockola from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-concrete-building-on-cliff-616132/ 

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