Toward a better understanding of collaborative research, development, and innovation (R&D&I) - exploring virtual, physical, and cognitive structures




Innovation, Industry-Research collaboration, Innovation ecosystem, Collaboration structures


Objective of the study: The research in this paper contributes to the understanding of how physical, virtual, and cognitive structures support innovation ecosystems’ multi-actor research, development, and innovation (R&D&I) collaboration in its different phases.

Methodology/Approach: The research’s methodological approach is based on a qualitative case study research strategy. It is done by exploring three innovation ecosystem cases. The case data comprises the case ecosystems’ existing documentation that was supplemented with five semi-structured interviews.

Originality/Relevance: Based on the findings of this research, it was possible to explore how industry and academy partners are collaborating through virtual, physical, and cognitive structures. Our cases also provide empirical evidence on how physical industrial sites can be used as environments for collaborative industry-academy R&D&I work.

Main Results: As a result, the paper presents lessons learned from three different innovation ecosystem cases that involve industrial, technology, and academy partners to tackle industrial use cases through virtual, physical, and cognitive structures. An example of such lessons learned is assembling dynamic teams to solve industrial problems.

Theoretical/Methodological Contributions: This article builds an understanding of how virtual, physical, and cognitive structures support collaboration between different participants in their joint R&D&I work covering industry-academy collaboration. The article also explains practical examples of this using innovation ecosystem cases.

Management/Social Contributions: The findings of this study may benefit professionals and managers who have an interest in understanding collaborative R&D&I and how physical, virtual, and cognitive structures can support it. Furthermore, the results provide means and experiences for innovation ecosystem managers to facilitate the definition of operational models suitable for the context of their innovation ecosystems.


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Author Biographies

Jukka Kääriäinen, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Oulu, Finland

Ph.D. Senior Scientist in VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. He has over 20 years of experience with digitalization, digital transformation, configuration management and application lifecycle management and he has published number of articles on topics.

Katri Valkokari, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.Tampere, Finland

Ph.D. Research Manager in VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Her research has been published in a wide range of journal articles as well as edited books on the topics of knowledge and innovation management, network practices and ecosystems.

Erkki Siira, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Oulu, Finland

M.Sc. Senior Scientist in VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. He has long experience in digitalization of different domains, including manufacturing and transportation.

Jukka Hemilä, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Espoo, Finland

M.Sc. Senior Scientist in VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. His core competencies are business development from strategy to operations, business models, and organizational development

Marko Jurvansuu, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Oulu, Finland

Ph.D. Principal Scientist in VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. His main research topic is digitalization of manufacturing industry utilizing IoT technologies and ecosystemic collaboration between companies and research.


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How to Cite

Kääriäinen, J., Valkokari, K., Siira, E., Hemilä, J., & Jurvansuu, M. (2023). Toward a better understanding of collaborative research, development, and innovation (R&D&I) - exploring virtual, physical, and cognitive structures. International Journal of Innovation, 11(3), e22836.