Who are the Stakeholders in STEM Valorisation?

The interaction of stakeholders is at the core of the process of research valorisation (Hladchenko, 2016) and those actors may be individuals or an organisation. Here will take a deeper look into the different stakeholders in the STEM valorisation process.

The purpose and the role of stakeholders within the valorisation process broadly defines the following stakeholder typologies: academia (incl. research and technology organisations), industry (incl. SMEs and start-ups), private investors (banks, venture capitals, business angels, etc.), public authorities (incl. public finance) and civil society (associations, NGOs, etc.) (EU Commission, 2020). The main actors could alternatively be defined as: the knowledge providers (university, institute), the beneficiaries of the valorisation process (business, industry, government, NGO, public etc); and the intermediary organisations (science financier, knowledge transition facilitator) (Hladchenko, 2016).

Knowledge providers include various producers of higher education knowledge located within universities; academics, institutes, laboratories, etc. Academics, institutes, laboratories, and university management serve as a bridge between universities, users of the knowledge and intermediaries. Bridging is necessary as academics often lack the knowledge, skills and time to go through the entire process of knowledge valorisation successfully. Here the management of a university plays an important role, with the process of valorisation built on cooperative relationships between researchers and university management (Hladchenko, 2016). Other important valorisation actors include university students and senior researchers, especially those with entrepreneurial skills, knowledge in innovative processes, technical expertise and experience in innovative projects e.g., internships (Elia, Secundo and Passiante, 2017).

Beneficiaries in the valorisation process comprise a broad group of stakeholders and can refer to the above-mentioned groups as well as others: business, industry, national level authorities (ministries, agencies, other), regional level (regional authorities), municipalities/local authorities/community, schools or other educational institutions, hospitals, museums, civil society organizations and citizens. The organisational capacity of the municipality and the regional authority is of importance for knowledge valorisation (Van den Berg et al., 2003 in Van Geenhuizen, 2010) and it “refers to the capability to recognize urgency for specific knowledge and to achieve sufficient commitment for policies that support this” (Van Geenhuizen, 2010).

A more structural approach to defining the beneficiaries uses Davey’s (2015) explanation of beneficiaries as those dependant on the gain(s) from knowledge circulation in university-industry interaction. University and business cooperation, or interaction, forms part of the valorisation process, and this approach may explain the outreach impact for different stakeholders. As explained, there are three levels of University Business Cooperation (UBC) beneficiaries: at ‘Micro’ level, stakeholders receive direct outcomes of valorisation (individuals: students, academics, and business staff), at ‘Meso’ level, stakeholders also receive direct outcomes of valorisation (institutions:  universities and businesses) and at ‘Macro’ level, stakeholders receive indirect outcomes of valorisation (communities:  society, region, science, and industry) (Davey T., 2015). The relationship between knowledge producers and the final beneficiaries is mediated by intermediary organisations that also play a significant role in valorisation.

Intermediary structures can involve knowledge transfer offices (KTOs), technology transfer offices (TTOs), business incubators and science parks, research institutes, and policy development departments. These intermediaries generate a pathway for knowledge valorisation by helping researchers and innovators practically apply their solutions, products, and services. They facilitate the whole process of valorisation as they are usually the first contact point for both the researchers and the industry searching for new opportunities. Intermediaries may well play the roles of mentors or coaches, or they may provide networking platforms and examples of best practices and thereby, they additionally boost the valorisation process. Alumni students’ associations and alumni networks also play a role in valorisation, and alumni may provide a reservoir of role-models, mentors, financial supporters or partners for projects.

The intermediary structures for SSH valorisation remain mostly within the universities and strong university management support is crucial for supporting partners in having better communication with universities (Stier and Dobers, 2017).

Adapted from the STEM-Valorisation Synthesis Report

References

Davey, T. (2015). Entrepreneurship at Universities Exploring the conditions and factors influencing the development of entrepreneurship in universities. Unpublished PhD thesis or dissertation: VU Amsterdam.

Elia, G., Secundo, G., & Passiante, G. (2017). Pathways towards the entrepreneurial university for creating entrepreneurial engineers: an Italian case. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 21(1-2), 27-48.

EU Commission (2020). Boosting the transformation of knowledge into new sustainable solutions. Directorate-General for Research and Innovation.

Hladchenko, M. (2016). Knowledge valorisation: A route of knowledge that ends in surplus value (an example of the Netherlands). International Journal of Educational Management, 30(5), 668-678.

Stier, J., & Dobers, P. (2017). Quadruple Helix Co-creation in SSH: Experiences, Considerations, Lessons Learned. Sustainable Society, University of Groningen.

Van Geenhuizen, M. (2010) Valorisation of knowledge: preliminary results on valorisation paths and obstacles in bringing university knowledge to market. Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual High Technology Small Firms Conference, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands, May 27-28 2010.