Creating innovative opportunities through research collaboration: An evolutionary framework and empirical illustration in engineering
Journal article, 2015

This paper analyses the creation of innovative opportunities through research collaborations. It contributes by (i) providing an evolutionary conceptual framework for the formation and exploitation of innovative opportunities through research collaboration; and by (ii) providing an empirical illustration of this framework by applying it to a case study of firms׳ research collaboration taking place in university–industry research centers in engineering. The evolutionary framework developed specifically focuses on the generation of novelty and variety and on selection pressures as key for the creation of opportunities. It also emphasizes the differences between small and large firms when it comes to role of research collaboration for opportunity creation. Empirically, we illustrate that firms in general focus more on the generation of variety in the form of (fundamental) knowledge, than on research collaboration leading directly to the formation and exploitation of opportunities. For large firms, the focus is rather to transfer this created variety back to the firm, to use for inputs into the in-house creation of opportunities. In contrast, small firms focus instead on using research collaboration to generate and develop knowledge about customer needs in order to create market opportunities, especially through networking with large firms participating in the collaboration.

Innovative opportunity creation

Case study

Research collaboration

Evolutionary economics

Firm size


Tomas McKelvey

University of Gothenburg

Olof Zaring

University of Gothenburg

Daniel Ljungberg

University of Gothenburg


0166-4972 (ISSN)

Vol. 39-40 26-36

Subject Categories


Economics and Business

Business Administration

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified



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