- News article -

How to make multi-organisational sustainable innovation projects successful?

27 Jun 2018

A new Master’s thesis studied the key success factors and main challenges for sustainability-orientated innovation projects in ecosystems involving a number of organisations.

Research and development used to be more of an in-house activity within companies, but organisations today understand the value of joining forces in innovation processes and forming ecosystems around them.

“However, projects involving several organisations are very complex. The main objective in my thesis was to find out what makes such multi-organisational projects a success”, says Master’s thesis writer Janne Kaukojärvi from Swedish Karlstad University.

Janne’s thesis studied a EU-funded, four-year innovation project that kicked off in January 2018. The goal of the project is to use biomaterials for manufacturing small electronic components. In total, eight organisations from Finland, Norway, Germany, Belgium and Spain provided in-depth interviews for the thesis: five SMEs, two large companies and one research centre.

“I was particularly interested in the beginning of the project, because that is when the foundations for success – or failure – are laid”, Janne says.

Janne identified seven themes or areas for the thesis in total that included both success factors and challenges: capability, expectations, disposition, communication, management, commitment and experience. Furthermore, the findings indicate that decision-making, preconditions, resourcing, and commitment, are the four main differences when it comes to collaborative capabilities in SMEs and large companies.

“For instance, the parties’ expectations and objectives can be completely different from each other. How do you shape a common project goal for a research centre interested in new scientific findings that also works for an SME that wants to create business out of an innovation as quickly as possible?” he illustrates.

Managerial implications for an innovation ecosystem project

  • Key strategic objectives for the ecosystem participation must be formulated at top management level to ensure commitment at organisational and personal levels.
  • Establishing the common vision and the organisational roles in the ecosystem is time-consuming but crucial. It is recommended to use a cyclical approach.
  • Flexibility and availability of human resources and skills, as well as effective communication and internal project management, are key factors in ensuring the organisations benefit from the collaborative project in terms of networking, internal competence building and commercialisation.
  • The role of project coordination is especially crucial in publicly funded projects. The project coordinator has the ultimate responsibility of setting up, maintaining and managing a well-functioning ecosystem.

More information: Janne Kaukojärvi, janne.kaukojarvi@spinverse.com

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