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Systems of Change: Sustainable Approaches to Innovation Management in the Norwegian Bioeconomy Sector

Alternative title: Systemer for forandring: Bærekraftige tilnærminger til innovasjonsledelse og innovasjonsforvaltning innen den norske bioøkonomisektoren.

Awarded: NOK 1.5 mill.

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Project Period:

2021 - 2024

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Knowledge transfer programs between institutions and industry are an integral part of increasing the competitiveness of industry and enjoys widespread institutional support in Norway. Local regional innovation systems (RIS) require such knowledge transfer programs to facilitate path renewal through the development and maintenance of sustainable long-term competitive advantage. However, current knowledge transfer programs, with their exclusive focus on scientific knowledge, are unable to provide the non-technical knowledge that would achieve such innovative outcomes. At present, knowledge transfer programs do not (i) seek knowledge transfer beyond technical expertise; (ii) reach out beyond traditional institutional collaboration partners; (iii) or invest in organizational-level innovations with more sustainable outcomes. Knowledge to develop sustainable business practices at the organizational level is, however, a key target area to foster sustainable path renewal in a given RIS that requires investigation. This project will address the limitations of the innovation system within a local Norwegian bio-economy cluster to analyze how the inclusion of further potential collaboration partners and non-technical knowledge on innovation management can contribute to targeting sustainable path renewal in markets such as bioeconomy sectors. Through a number of case studies, it will investigate how local challenges in systemic factors such as the procurement and application of innovation management tools can be overcome to configure the local bioeconomy RIS. By taking a Systems Approach to these R&D challenges, this project endeavours to understand how to provide a local multi-node system with practical ways to define managerial problems and design solutions.

This project’s main objectives are to address the need for external expertise in the areas of sustainable leadership and organization innovation needed to increase the competitive advantage of local bio-based SMEs in the Inland bioeconomy sector of Norway. In fulfilling these objectives, this project will address current challenges in knowledge transfer practices as it pertains to developing and sustaining innovations that go beyond the transfer of technical knowledge and skills. It therefore addresses the need for non-technical/non-scientific knowledge transfer to focus on the organizational needs of SMEs. However, since such non-technical expertise is not readily available from traditional research institutions currently providing R&D to local industry (e.g. Universities, government-funded R&D programs), this project will explore centers of innovation and knowledge generation outside formal research processes that are not readily available to Norwegian bio-based SMEs and facilitate the dissemination of such knowledge to develop sustainable business practices at the organizational level. In order to facilitate the transfer and implementation of relevant organizational and managerial innovations for path renewal and development in the Inland bioeconomy sector, firm- and system-level research is required. By taking a Systems Approach to these R&D challenges, this project endeavours to understand a multi-node system such as that of the Inland bioeconomy and provide a practical way to define managerial problems and design solutions and ultimately identify the best practices for the transfer and implementation of the unique competencies of innovative organizational leadership strategies in small firms that are practical, applicable and sustainable.

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