Cooperación en innovación con centros tecnológicos. Enfoque teórico.

María Núñez-Romero, Martín Sevilla Jiménez, José Pires Manso


Los efectos internos en la empresa se multiplican cuando los procesos innovadores tienen efecto tanto a nivel sector como a nivel región. En estos impactos a nivel de región o sector tiene especial importancia la cooperación en innovación que se da entre las empresas y los centros tecnológicos. Por ello, en el trabajo se presenta un enfoque teórico sobre las doctrinas en las que se asienta el proceso de cooperación en innovación, ya que se considera importante el efecto derrame de conocimiento producido en las estrategias innovadoras de las empresas sobre sus homólogas en el territorio o en su sector.


The theoretical approach presented offers an interpretation of the process of cooperation in innovation. This theoretical framework understands innovation as transforming factor in society, in which cooperation with technology centres plays an important role in the processes of knowledge transmission and diffusion of innovation in sectors and territories. The use of external sources of knowledge by firms has grown impressively since the late 1980s (Arora et al. 2001; Hagedoorn 2002; Amara and Landry 2005), which has increased the interest of academics and policy makers in this field. Based on the endogenous development theory, technological innovation is intrinsic to the development of the region and not an exogenous element, a postulate advocated by more modern approaches that have been tried to demonstrate from different perspectives over the last thirty years, such as the structuralist or evolutionary approach. Neoclassical models often accept the equality between growth and development and seem to imply that there is only one path to development, but the theory of endogenous development allows us to see that there are different paths, and that by using the potential of the territory it is possible to find development paths specific to a local community. The conceptualisation of endogenous development is difficult because of its evolution and transformation as society evolves. The theory of endogenous development aims to satisfy the needs of the population and improve their standard of living, and to do so requires an increase in productivity through the introduction of technological changes that allow for new combinations of productive factors. In the phenomena in which innovation is articulated in a territorial area, unlike traditional theories, the evolutionary theory assumes that innovation policy instruments are presented as the main actors for economic development. In this sense, the theoretical study of the influence of innovative processes in the territory is proposed from the meso-economic level, developing models framed in an evolutionary economy and institutionalist approaches to economic theory. This set of models has innovation as a “modus operandi” of economic development based on the idea of Schumpeter and his conception of the company as the focus of technological innovation. Mode 2 of knowledge production is characterised by its permeability to external demands and needs, transdisciplinary and social responsibility, aspects previously alien to scientific work. The triple helix model is based on the involvement of three subsystems of agents involved: university (as an organic entity of higher education and research), industry (as a set of companies demanding and using research) and public administrations (as a set of institutions and organizations of a public nature that have the mission of administering and managing the state and some public bodies). Thus, innovation occurs because of the interaction of the three subsystems. The concept of innovation system as a set of agents, institutions and society linked to innovative activity in the regions has been defined from various perspectives, and its strength of being anchored to a territory (defined physical space) and boosting all the necessary infrastructure for the improvement of competitiveness, providing the region with a necessary value, has been highlighted. Within the meso-economic approach to the study of innovation, clusters are the last step. This phenomenon, also studied from the point of view of economic development, presents a mode of industrial organization based on small decentralised units with productive specialisation in a specific area. Many authors have studied the cluster or industrial district phenomenon, with Marshall's ideas (1890) on the relevance of territorial structuring being pioneering. The interest in territorial innovation models (Moulaert and Sekia, 2003), which consider regions as a source of competitive advantages (Castells and Hall, 1994; Starr and Saxenian, 1995), sustain the importance of the environment as a key element of cooperation in innovation processes, as the agglomeration of the critical mass of knowledge and capabilities (Minguillo et al., 2015). Innovation cooperation is a heterogeneous strategy given that there may be multiple actors involved in terms of size, geographical coverage, infrastructure or service provided (Albahari et al., 2010). This heterogeneity and the lack of standardisation of performance evaluation are some of the reasons why it is difficult to provide a result on the impact of innovation policy instruments that promote cooperative arrangements, such as science and technology parks (Albahari et al., 2013; Albahari et al., 2017; Chan et al., 2011). Exploiting the competitive advantages of clustering also fosters greater cooperation and interaction between firms and between firms and other support institutions. These are specific costs that are not borne by the individual firm but by the industry, offering a positive response to the development of the region through knowledge sharing. The interactions that occur in cooperation processes for knowledge and technology transfer are supported by the triple helix model (Yan et al., 2018; Alfonso et al., 2010) and can facilitate the development of a business environment with an international perspective (Eckardt, 2017). The process of innovation cooperation has been considered appropriate and attractive worldwide to promote a national innovation system (Audretsch, 2009; Link and Scott, 2007). Universities are consolidated as external sources of knowledge for business innovation, being recognised since the 1980s (Bozeman, 2000) and highlighted in Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff's (1997) triple helix and open innovation approaches (Chesbrough, 2003). In addition, universities are increasingly expected to have a greater presence in interactions with industrial and regional partners (Jongbloed et al., 2008), to contribute to innovation and social change (Gulbrandsen and Slipersæter, 2007). Although greater university involvement implies knowledge that is more suitable for patenting (Brusoni et al., 2005 Asheim and Coenen, 2005), greater patenting activity does not translate into greater product innovation. Spanish universities have traditionally encountered problems in transforming knowledge into new products (Alber and Plaza, 2004; Testar Ymbert, 2012). The role of technology centres as instruments of public action in regional innovation systems is justified from several approaches: the neoclassical approach and the evolutionary approach (Barge and Modrego, 2007). In an evolutionary theoretical framework, for Justman and Teubal (1996), innovation policies focused on infrastructures, as organisations created for the creation, transfer and application of knowledge, are the most effective in comparison with particular incentive policies, such as subsidies. The literature review on technology centres allows us to find two types of studies, on the one hand, a study of the impact of the technology centre on firms and the region, and on the other hand, a study of the performance of the technology centre as a generator of innovation outputs. Empirical evidence shows that innovation cooperation strategies with universities and technology centres complement other innovation and cooperation activities with other types of partners (Veugelers and Cassiman, 2005). In this sense, technology centres offer a dynamic position in the regional framework, interacting with all the agents involved in the innovative process of the territory, as well as being influenced by territorial development factors such as human capital or the organization of the financial system. The aim of this work is to carry out a systematic and exploratory literature review of the relationship between innovation theories and the performance of cooperation, especially with technology centres, as a business and regional development strategy. In this sense, the present work aims to offer a theoretical approach to cooperation in innovation processes, it seeks to determine under which theories or approaches the processes of cooperation in innovation between companies in the innovation system, and the linked technology centres have been studied. In accordance with this objective, the work begins with the presentation of the first doctrines linked to endogenous growth and development as models linked to productive factors. This is followed by a presentation of the doctrines of the innovative process, with the model 2 of knowledge production, the triple helix model, innovation systems and clusters, as theories of the influence of cooperation between agents in the innovation processes of companies. The last section analyses the characteristics of cooperation in innovation between agents in the system and companies, paying special attention to technology centres as cooperative partners.

© Revista de estudios regionales 2014 Universidades Públicas de Andalucía