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(2) Innovation management, tech transfer and entrepreneurship

Despite the fact that OECD has traditionally classified the food industry as a low-tech sector, it is widely recognised that new products and processes are increasingly needed to establish stronger foundations for competitiveness, as well as are pivotal for companies to face emerging global challenges. At the same time, though, this sector is mainly composed by SMEs which usually face challenges associated with limited resources and qualified personnel for R&D, thus representing barriers that hamper agri-food SMEs from innovating and being competitive. To overcome those hurdles, we are witnessing new dynamics, such as open innovation, cross-industry innovation and/or systemic innovation as well as the emergence of novel product categories and new technology platforms across different value chains, which in turn imply new regulatory settings. Our research group thus strives to empirically analyse innovation- and technology management in the agri-food sector to investigate how SMEs as well as large firms coexist, compete and/or collaborate in new organizational forms across complex value chains and networks and how the aforementioned new dynamics are currently implemented within agri-food value chains and networks. Moreover, we evaluate those dynamics also in a bio-economic perspective by empirically analysing the emergence of novel value chains consequent to the introduction of product/process innovations and/or cascading usage of agricultural by-products/waste aimed at addressing global challenges such as resource scarcity (e.g. phosphorus). Furthermore, we seek to contribute to the understanding of the interplay between regulation and public/private standards and innovation in the agri-food chain. Overall, examples of research questions we have worked/are working on are:

  • What drives cross-industry innovation?
  • What drives the emergence of novel value chains based on the valorisation of agricultural by-products?
  • What do we know on systemic innovation in the food chain?
  • Does food regulation foster innovation?

By answering these questions we seek to further contribute to innovation management research in the complex agri-food sector and its related values chains. Our data include qualitative and quantitative primary and secondary (i.e. Community Innovation Survey database) sources, whereas methods entail multivariate statistics, as well as qualitative content analysis.

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