The dynamic role of universities in developing an emerging sector: a case study of the biotechnology sector

Shih-Hsin Chen*, Wei Ting Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Literature maintains that the role of universities has shifted from pure knowledge dissemination organisations into the key intermediaries of technology commercialisation, especially in the case of the developing emerging high-tech sector (Etzkowitz, Webster, Gebhardt, & Terra, 2000; Vallas & Kleinman, 2008). To further explore the dynamic role of the universities interacting with the other actors in the innovation system, this paper examines the changing roles of the universities that have actively interacted with the biotechnology industry in Taiwan from 2000 to 2012. Combining social network analysis and interview data on a longitudinal dataset gathered from 125 IPO biotechnology firms, this paper aims to explore the R&D collaboration networks between the universities and the other actors in the biotechnology sectoral innovation system to understand how universities make use of knowledge exchanged with other parties to shape society while developing emerging industries. The involvement rate of academia in the knowledge transfer networks appears to have increased since 2000 but more can be done to spur scalable action after 2008, and therefore association with other similar evolving areas. Moreover, the participation of foreign collaboration is one which needs some attention. The finding of this paper sheds light on the changing role of academia in developing emerging technologies in technology followers, while the innovation ecosystem is ready for academia-industry collaboration, universities not only take charge of disseminating knowledge but also serve as the major intermediaries in the process of commercialising science and technologies developed through the universities. Future policies may need to boost more partaking between the universities and industries by motivating the transmission of knowledge capital through encouraging technology commercialisation in academia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Academia-industry collaboration
  • Innovation networks
  • Research and development collaborations
  • Social network analysis
  • Triple helix

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