An in-depth study of direct and indirect impacts from the research of a physics professor
Journal article, 2014
Some policymakers believe that academic R&D generates insufficient economic benefits. However, they often exclude the long-term and multi-dimensional impacts that are mediated through the activities of companies, students or policymakers. This case study, which is mainly interview-based, traces and characterises such impacts applying the technological innovation systems approach to the case of a physics professor. Multi-dimensional impacts are revealed in the areas of catalysis, biomaterials and research policy. Impacts on the development, social capital and search processes are continuous and cumulative, while impacts on resource mobilisation and legitimation follow upon these. Entrepreneurial experimentation and market formation are impacted in later stages, sometimes with decade-long time lags. The impact is often subtle, deeply intertwined with the action of others, and it unfolds in sequences of impact. Implications are drawn for research policy, emphasising the importance of accounting for indirect impacts in order to understand the full effect of academic R&D.