From ideas to construction innovations: firms and universities collaborating
Journal article, 2016
The purpose here is to study patterns of project collaboration found in one government supported programme for construction innovation. Preferred types of interaction were identified using data from two questionnaire surveys, one with experienced construction sector respondents and one aimed at construction researchers. All sixteen development projects within the Swedish Bygginnovationen programme were investigated, relying on documents and a survey of project managers. Important types of interaction, according to construction respondents, are informal contacts, joint research projects and staff mobility. For university respondents, informal contacts is also seen as the most important type of interaction, followed by MSc thesis work in firms and industrial PhD candidates. Grant applicants from manufacturing depended more on university laboratories and were less sensitive to firm/university distance. Laboratory use was also more frequent for projects relying on the field of materials engineering. In conclusion, there is a consensus about which types of collaboration are valuable. The broadness of participation in the programme, ranging over many industries, both as to origin of ideas and ultimate applications, reaches beyond narrow interpretations of the construction industry. Policy makers should recognize the innovation importance of university laboratory facilities and field testing, rather than seeing researchers as sources of ideas.