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Analyzing the role of research and technology organizations (RTOs) in national innovation systems (NIS)

: Hecklau, F.; Kidschun, F.; Kohl, H.; Tominaj, S.


16th European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance, ECMLG 2020. Abstracts and Conference Material : Virtual Conference, Oxford, UK, 26-27th October 2020
Reading: ACI, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-912764-76-1
ISBN: 978-1-912764-77-8
European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance (ECMLG) <16, 2020, Online>
Fraunhofer IPK ()

This paper conducts an extensive literature review to derive the role and positioning of Research and Technology Organizations (RTOs) in National Innovation Systems (NIS). Special attention is paid to the identification of main actors and the structure of a national innovation system in order to define the term “applied research organizations” and to analyse research and development, as they enable to describe the structure of innovation systems. The innovative performance of a country depends on the functionality of its national innovation systems, the active interaction of the involved actors and the technological maturity of the NIS (OECD 1997). NIS are defined as networks of institutions in the private and public sector that interact with each other to develop, modify and transform new technologies. They take over different activities and functions between basic research and market maturity. (Freeman 1995) In a NIS, different actors are active in promoting innovation. In general, a corporate sector generates the demand for innovation and a network of organizations consisting of universities, laboratories and political institutions acts as a supporting part. Together, they contribute to advancements in their fields. (Teubal 2002). Thus, the analysis of NIS represents a possible approach for the identification of actors, their field of actuation and especially of the role of RTOs. For these purposes, one of the best-known structuring approaches is the triple helix model of innovation, which focuses on the three main actors: science, industry and government. (Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff 1995; Ranga and Etzkowitz 2013) When analyzing the main actors of this system, it becomes clear that RTOs play a significant role for national innovation systems. RTOs are driving forces of digital transformation and economic growth as they increase innovation-related capabilities in industry and develop state-of-the-art technologies. As intermediaries between universities and private organizations, RTOs act as connecting organizations in the innovation system and pursue innovation for economy, society and governments.