Studies on the diffusion of new science-based technologies

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Informaatio- ja luonnontieteiden tiedekunta | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
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Technological change is one of the key driving forces behind economic growth. In this process, the diffusion of new technologies plays a vital role. In particular, the early stages of diffusion, in which knowledge is created and transferred for wider industrial use, are seen as crucial to the broader societal impact of technologies. Therefore, it is essential to understand how technologies diffuse from academia to industry, and to highlight different factors that facilitate or hinder the diffusion process. This thesis addresses the diffusion of nanotechnology and biotechnology in four articles, each highlighting a specific and critical part of the early-stage diffusion process. The first article focuses on the variety of outcomes that university researchers achieve when interacting with companies. It identifies whether a researcher's boundary-spanning position in research collaboration networks is connected with these outcomes. The results suggest that university-industry interaction leads to both tangible and intangible outcomes and that boundary-spanning plays a role in achieving them. The second article highlights the importance of understanding the unique characteristics of the transferred technology. It compares the specificities of nanotechnology to other science-based technologies such as biotechnology. The empirical results indicate that nanotechnology differs from other science-based technologies in only a few dimensions of technology transfer related to the basic research orientation of nanotechnology. The third article emphasises the role of smaller technology-dedicated companies in the diffusion process. The paper highlights the importance of understanding the economic value of the patent portfolio of biotechnology-dedicated companies with respect to the companies' future growth expectations. The results indicate that there exists a positive connection between growth expectations and the value of patent portfolios; this value could be signalled to external financiers. The fourth article identifies links between smaller technology-dedicated companies and larger established companies. The latter may act as industrialists when introducing new science-based products and processes to the market. The results of this paper identify several potential diffusion channels for nanotechnology in both traditional and high-tech industries. The articles provide implications for research, policy and practice. The key implications relate to the role of interdisciplinarity as an important ingredient in producing more industry related knowledge, the technology specificity of the technology transfer process and the different roles smaller and larger companies have in technology diffusion.
Supervising professor
Maula, Markku, Prof.
Thesis advisor
Maula, Markku, Prof.
diffusion, science-based technologies, nanotechnology, biotechnology
  • [Publication 1]: Tuomo Nikulainen. 2010. The outcomes of individual-level technology transfer and the role of research collaboration networks. Helsinki, Finland: The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA). 20 pages. ETLA Discussion papers, No. 1214. ISSN 0781-6847.
  • [Publication 2]: Tuomo Nikulainen and Christopher Palmberg. 2010. Transferring science-based technologies to industry—Does nanotechnology make a difference? Technovation, volume 30, number 1, pages 3-11.
  • [Publication 3]: Tuomo Nikulainen, Raine Hermans, and Martti Kulvik. 2008. Patent citations indicating present value of the biotechnology business. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, volume 5, number 3, pages 279-301.
  • [Publication 4]: Tuomo Nikulainen. 2010. Identifying nanotechnological linkages in the Finnish economy – an explorative study. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, volume 22, number 5, pages 513-531.