Opportunities for and limits to Academics as System Builders - The case of realizing the potential of gasified biomass in Austria
Journal article, 2009
Gasified biomass is a technology that has the potential to partially replace fossil fuels for the production of heat, electricity, transport fuels, synthetic natural gas (BioSNG) and chemicals. In the context of climate change, biomass gasification is an attractive technology. It is, however, still in the early phase of its diffusion and much of the knowledge resides in the academic sector and in small companies-the technological innovation system (TIS) is in the process of being formed. Austria is one of the leading European countries in this field and much of the development in Austria can be traced to one prominent individual, Professor Hermann Hofbauer at the Technical University of Vienna. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how and the extent to which an individual academic, Professor Hofbauer, has influenced the formation of a TIS centred on gasified biomass in Austria. We find that his impact is multidimensional and significant but that there is also a frictional and intentional resistance that obstructs the commercialisation of the new technology. These sources of resistance go beyond the ability of an individual system builder to handle. Policy makers, therefore, need to add a strong element of system building activities that interact with and supplement those pursued by Professor Hofbauer.