Transformation of a research centre toward an innovation partner in the construction sector

  • Koukkari H
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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to study innovation processes of the construction sector from the viewpoints of research-based consultation at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Design/methodology/approach - The starting point of an internal analysis and benchmarking concerning the role of a research centre come from a Finnish product manufacturer that challenged its capacity to a short introduction lead-time. Understanding as an opportunity, a core team is set up representing different expertises, and a co-operation project is proposed to the manufacturer. In addition, an in-house follow-up project is created. After completing successfully the product development project, and based upon findings of the follow-up project, a feasibility study is conducted concerning consultation packages for development of construction products and concepts. However, during this study phase, the objective of packages is replaced by an ideal of a collaborative process that integrates competencies, tools, and management of a research and development organisation, and links them to those of the customer. Findings - The process model of a multi-disciplinary commercialized research-based consultation is a new way to organise work of a research centre, and its core is collaboration with the customer. During the follow-up process, feasibility study and development of a research-based process, approaches of the Action Research were applied. A market study and two external evaluations were made that gave partly consistent partly inconsistent results with the learning outcome concerning appeal of the new type of partnership. New sector-wide strategies at the national and European level show however that key findings were justified. Next challenges in the development of the multi-disciplinary innovation services concern internationalisation, external networking and globalisation. Originality/value - The paper offers insight into the transformation of a research centre into an innovation partner with the construction industry. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Action research
  • Construction industry
  • Finland
  • Innovation
  • Partnership
  • Research organizations

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  • Heli Koukkari

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