Working Paper BETA #2022-12

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Title : Research management models to promote breakthrough innovation: analyzing success case stories of simultaneous discovery-invention research processes

Author(s) : Jean-Alain Héraud, Nathalie Popiolek

Abstract : Economic innovations are not systematically triggered by scientific discoveries or technological inventions. They can benefit from a new scientific idea without really depending on it as a key element. For instance, incremental innovations almost by definition do not exploit a new techno-scientific paradigm. Moreover, some very creative ideas happen to arise in other fields than science or technology, like the domain of usage. Nevertheless, scientific discoveries and breakthrough innovations, during the 20th and 21th centuries, were often linked. We wish to check here the existence of cross-fertilization mechanisms between academic and industrial researches in specific cases of high creativity level, and try to describe the simultaneous discovery-innovation process taking place at such occasions. We base our study on historical examples and a series of interviews of actors from public research organizations as well as industrial R&D departments. We learnt a lot about the various dimensions of the knowledge co-creation, but also about the difficulties to overcome in such cooperative schemes: differences in individual and institutional motivations, in the perception of science (its raison d’être, its ownership), of risk, and of time (unsynchronized clocks).

Key-words : Discovery, Radical innovation, Academy - industry partnerships, Models of innovation

JEL Classification : O31, O32