A Case Study of the platform CLOSER – It gives more than it takes
Innovation is in many organisations the core of the growth and development process. In today´s world, many organisations have realised that working in silos is no longer efficient, hence the search for external sources that can complement its internal knowledge base through boundary spanning activities. This is often explained through the concept of open innovation and the recently updated version, open innovation 2.0 (OI2). Especially OI2 focuses on the systemic approach of innovation collaborations and building towards societal wealth. Innovation systems is one of those system approaches towards innovation, and Triple Helix is a form of such a system that involves the triad-partners: academia, public and industry. Commonly, these actors work to create innovative and sustainable solutions. The innovation system must fulfil its eight functions, in order to achieve the overall aim of creating, diffusing and using knowledge. In addition, the role of intermediaries in innovation systems are often discussed. They are essential in designing and managing these networks. However, the literature studies around the definition of intermediaries is scattered and sometimes confusing. The assessment of the intermediary’s role and its impact is also not developed. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the intermediary´s role in innovation systems structured like a Triple Helix, through a specific case of CLOSER. To investigate this, a qualitative research strategy was selected and organised by using a narrative literature review with elements of a systemic approach. The qualitative strategy involved semi-structured interviews with partners and managers at the platform and observations of meetings. The collected data from interviews were then analysed in a thematic analysis, using transcripts as the data material and Citavis (a program) as a tool to extract codes and themes to represent the findings of the study. The findings of the study suggest that CLOSER´s role in its innovation system are: Innovation Process Supporter, Facilitator and Bridger. Through these roles, CLOSER Enables Knowledge Development and Diffusion and Creates a Network. The first role, Innovation Process Supporter, mainly involves activities that support and stimulate the innovation process. The second role, Facilitator, works to create an open, creative and supportive meeting arena to connect the actors involved in the system. The third role, Bridger, works to bridge structural holes between potential connections fostering both weak and strong ties. The role also promotes creation of common goals and visions that legitimise the collaborations. Ultimately this role involves solving and avoiding potential conflicts of interest amongst actors. Furthermore, these results indicate that CLOSER contributes to all eight functions of the innovation system it is intermediating in. However, the extent of that contribution needs further development and therefore this study can be used as a foundation to build an assessment model on.