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Combining knowledge to generate novelty: a study of disclosed ideas for life science inventions

Taran Thune (TIK Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway)
Magnus Gulbrandsen (TIK Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 14 August 2017

330

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how a combination of diverse sources of knowledge is important for generation of new ideas and address how institutional infrastructures and practices support integration of knowledge across organizations in medicine and life sciences.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper investigates new product ideas that emerge from hospital and university employees, and looks at the extent of interaction between clinical and scientific environments in the idea generation process. The paper utilizes data about all new product ideas within life science that were reported in South-Eastern Norway in 2009-2011, as well as information about the individuals and teams that had been involved in disclosing these ideas. Interviews with inventors have also been carried out.

Findings

Interaction and integration across scientific and clinical domains are common and important for generating new product ideas. More than half of the disclosed life science ideas in the database come from groups representing multiple institutions with both scientific and clinical units or from individuals with multiple institutional affiliations. The interviews indicate that the infrastructure for cross-domain interaction is well-developed, particularly for research activities, which has a positive effect on invention.

Originality/value

The paper uses an original data set of invention disclosures and investigates the hospital-science interface, which is a novel setting for studies of inventive activities.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper is based on the STILS research project funded by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council, under the program activity FORFI, and a grant from the Health Region South-East in Norway. Their financial support is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also would like to thank Inven2 for supplying data, Ole Kristian Berggren for additional assistance in collecting data and all the informants that took part in the interview study. The insightful comments made by the participants at the annual WOMI workshops and the reviewers and editors of EJIM are also acknowledged. Any mistakes and omissions remain the sole responsibility of the authors.

Citation

Thune, T. and Gulbrandsen, M. (2017), "Combining knowledge to generate novelty: a study of disclosed ideas for life science inventions", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 446-462. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-11-2016-0114

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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