The bioeconomy has become a central concept in many strategies for future economic development, emphasising an increasing need for collaboration across industries and sectors for innovation. This paper unpacks aspects of collaboration in the bioeconomy by looking at the development of innovation networks for biorefinery technologies from 2004 to 2014 based on innovation project data from Swedish public funding agencies using a stochastic actor-oriented model for network analysis. The analysis shows that although the network grew significantly during the time period, indicating an increasing interest in biorefinery technology innovation, inter-sectoral collaboration is not favoured over intra-sectoral collaboration. As is known from previous work on social networks trust-building is a key driver for collaboration, as actors tend to form collaborations with previous partners or indirectly connected partners, creating clustered networks.
Fredric Bauer, Teis Hansen & Hans Hellsmark (2018) Innovation in the
bioeconomy – dynamics of biorefinery innovation networks, Technology Analysis & Strategic
Management, 30:8, 935-947, DOI: 10.1080/09537325.2018.1425386
Researcher Fredric Bauer Researcher at Environmental and Energy Systems Studies & CIRCLE Lund University Reference Fredric Bauer, Teis Hansen & Hans Hellsmark (2018)
The interview transcript
Innovation in the bioeconomy – dynamics of biorefinery innovation networks, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 30:8, 935-947, DOI: 10.1080/09537325.2018.1425386
The interview transcript
Frederic, thank you very much for accepting this invitation to a coffee break with me, how are you doing?
Yes thank you for inviting me I’m doing very well thanks.
That’s good to hear I’m having today uh delicious Colombian black coffee, which one are you having?
I’m having the same as agent cooper usually has, a coffee black as midnight on a moonless night.
How nice to hear that I want to talk also about the paper you wrote about innovation in the Bioeconomy super interesting paper, could you please tell me what the what was about?
The paper is called innovation in the bioeconomy dynamics of biorefinery innovation networks and it’s a paper that I wrote together with two colleagues Teis Hansen and Hans Hellsmark and in this paper we are looking into some detail into how firms from different industries and of different kinds collaborate on innovation for what we call biorefinery technologies, which are explicitly stated to be some of the platform technologies to be used in a more sustainable, less fossil fuel powered bio-economy.
That’s a very important relevant topic these days, which will will you say are they the main findings of your research?
So we find that there are this was a topic that grew this innovation network that we study it grew significantly over the period that we studied it, which was from 2004 to 2014. So more and more firms got involved with this type of innovation and also we saw more firms from more different sectors um getting involved and so we were looking at how they collaborated and with whom they chose to collaborate and even though many sort of policy documents and other researchers had hypothesised that this type of innovation would require collaboration across different types of sectors so across industries and across knowledge bases we couldn’t really see that that was favoured and also it seemed to corroborate much of what was of what has previously known about this type of collaborative innovation or networks actually in general that they tend to be rather stable you tend to collaborate with those that you already know from before or possibly even those with whom you share significant or several similarities.
Thank you for clarifying that and this topic is is truly fascinating, could you please share some of your personal experience or personal drive or motivation you had to do this paper?
I mean as I said so this topic of the bio economy really exploded in in the international policy community, the world economic forum the OECD, the EU and the U.S: they published important pieces white papers etc., on the need to develop the bioeconomy and also the need for new types of innovation in the bioeconomy but when we read all these papers we could see that there were lots of sort of promises but quite few empirical studies to really back up the claims that were being made and that was what intrigued us, so there are all these hopes for what the bioeconomy should be delivering in terms of a more sustainable and less climate damaging economy and also they were these strong statements on how the bioeconomy was supposed to work, but really you know would it be able to deliver that and would it was it actually working the way all these documents and reports said they would, so that’s what intrigued us to really find out and deliver some empirical evidence or possibly counter evidence to this these promises hopes and and claims about innovation in the bioeconomy.
How interesting I imagined that there are several policy implications based on that right ,could you please highlight some?
I mean we think this is important for policymakers to think about not I mean there’s a wider debate regarding how we you know formulate policies and what sort of promises we make in these types of white papers that are important in shaping policies, but more specifically I think our paper has implications for how governments should structure their innovation support and specifically if there are these types of hopes on cross-industrial collaboration and one has to really think carefully when designing instruments that one hopes will will be picked up in such a manner, so for example if there is hope that by refineries are to be developed by a multitude of actors collaborating well then one really has to look into the details, who is doing that and how can we ensure that they are doing that or actually is that really needed or is that more something that’s just being stated to be needed right, so finding the empirical evidence for what really what we really need, how that actually comes about and then thinking about how to promote diversity and cross-industrial or cross-sectoral collaboration when that is in fact identified to be the key.
I think that’s that’s some of the most important implications we sort of have from this paper and also what we who wrote this paper have been working on afterwards now.
How interesting to know that thank you so much for for sharing that and those were all my questions and thank you once again for for having this time to explain your paper and to chat with me and I wish you all the best for your future research and hope to see you again in the coffee break bye-bye.
Thank you so much have a good one.
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