Innovation plays a key role in driving industries to gain competitive advantage. Increasingly, open innovation is considered a key driver to help industries accelerate the rate of innovation through exploitation of the free flow of internal and external knowledge and expertise. With the external input of expertise and knowledge, industries can acquire stronger capability for innovation, and achieve better competitiveness than those which rely only on traditional closed innovation approach. Industries, especially small and medium enterprises, are particularly interested in partnering with universities as niche collaborators due to their innovation competence.
In face of intensive global competition, university-industry collaboration has been advocated by the government as a form of open innovation to enhance the development and commercialization of niche technologies for the environment. In 2009–2010, Hong Kong ranked third in Global Innovation Index, out of 132 economies surveyed. In terms of university-industry collaboration, Hong Kong ranked twenty-seven. To gain a deeper understanding of what determines industry-university innovation, this study focusses on all cleaner energy and environmental-oriented Innovation-and-Technology (ITF) funded projects that have been approved since the establishment of Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Fund in 1999 and that have involved university-industry collaboration. A total of 145 out of 2,345 ITF funded projects that carry the theme of cleaner energy and environment research and development during 1999–2010 have been selected. Quantitative surveys and qualitative face-to-face interviews have been conducted to identify what drivers and barriers for this group of ITF industries are involved in their engagement in industry-university collaboration, and why these drivers and barriers exist. The result obtained shows that majority of the local industries surveyed and interviewed are eager to collaborate with universities in environmental innovation for competitive advantage, especially for gaining reputations and securing future business opportunities. However, huge obstacles exist for local industries to partner with universities, especially for the SMEs, due to policy and institutional constraints. Innovation policies in support of SME innovation and institutional mechanisms to help SMEs find the right university partners are particularly relevant and critical for promoting open innovation (in the form of university-industry collaboration) in environmental and cleaner energy research among local industries in future.
|Keywords:||Open Innovation, Driver, Barrier, Innovation Policy, Industry-University Collaboration, Environment, Research and Development, Innovation and Technology Funded Projects, Hong Kong|
Postdoctoral Fellow, Kadoorie Institute, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Director, Kadoorie Institute, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Student of MSc in Environmental Management, The University of Hong Kong, China
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