In a formal way, IP and innovation can be seen as two sides of the same coin. But the production of knowledge is, indeed, the first and most important element to understand. Such knowledge is not a privilege of higher education and R+D: it may happen practically everywhere.
Of course, in the modern post-industrial world firms and universities are the main innovation player. Our main message is that their activities are in many ways interconnected.
Scientific for-front developments are occurring at intersections of disciplines, for instance between physics and biology. This has a profound impact on the development of science and technology. Such interfaces seem to be very productive spaces, and new, unexpected meeting places can be found all over the campus. Often, there is a leap from the application to the support and from there back to “pure” science. Infrastructures like Light Sources, MRI or even HPC are able to produce their own theoretical contributions, being definitively more than just “accompanying” research or teaching.
Successful research universities are able to manage their core processes in a way that enables transversal cooperation. But often management’s intent is one thing – a scientifically well-balanced internal structure the other. If departments, schools and institutes only react on vertical incentives, horizontal initiatives may be insufficient.
Of course, we know the other picture too, the complex matrix organization where tasks and competences are overlapping and free-floating programs miss an adequate control. The difficulty is that higher education, research and the realization of innovation often need different structures and layouts – that organizationally not always “one fits all”. A successful research university is able to focus on its key tasks and then to choose the adequate institutional solution. For that, universities and firms must have a culture enabling internal cooperation and the necessary structural agility. Since the nineties, there is a similar entrepreneurial trend when companies are learning how to take a more creative approach to mobilizing existing knowledge and resources.