Innovative Forms of Cooperation between Science and Industry – A Study of an Application Lab

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Innovative forms of cooperation between science and industry are a desired object of science policy to achieve a better transfer of scientific knowledge from academia into industry. However, this is a rather challenging process as the passages between science and industry in most disciplines do not flow smoothly. Studies show that the obstacles for knowledge and technology transfer particularly arise from structural boundaries between both systems. Leibniz Application Labs are one of the new cooperation formats trying to overcome these structural boundaries.

The project “Innovative Forms of Cooperation between Science and Industry – A Study of an Application Lab” is an explorative case study using qualitative methods to provide insights into the micro level of cooperation practices. The studied application lab is a joint venture of a Leibniz institute and a university. It is active in three fields: scientific research, technology development in cooperation with industry companies and training of young researchers.

First, the structure and history of the application lab will be mapped in the study. Second, the cooperation practices between scientists and employees of companies will be studied on a micro level: Which forms do they take? Where do difficulties arise? Who uses the knowledge generated in the cooperation and how? The third field of investigation is the training of young academics in this context: To what extent and how are young scientists involved in the cooperation practices? What are the benefits and the difficulties of the involvement? What is the relevance of the application lab for their future careers? Finally, some factors will be identified which could explain the characteristics of the cooperation practices and of the young researchers training in the studied application lab.

The empirical material will be generated by semi-structured interviews with all groups involved in the application lab. Additionally, participatory observation and analysis of documents will be conducted.