Innovation intermediary

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Innovation Intermediaries is a concept in innovation studies to help understand the role of firms, agencies and individuals that facilitate innovation by providing the bridging, brokering, knowledge transfer necessary to bring together the range of different organisations and knowledge needed to create successful innovation. Innovation intermediaries have always played a key role in innovation, for example the agricultural middlemen in 16th, 17th and 18th century Britain who not only bought and sold wool, but facilitated the transfer of knowledge of new techniques.[1] With the recent fashion for 'Open Innovation' involving complex networks of firms and users, organisations such as consultants, service incubators, conference organisers, trade organisations, government innovation agencies etc. are now recognised as playing a central role in facilitating and coordinating innovation.

Innovation intermediaries are variously described as 'bridgers', ' change agents', 'brokers'.[2] They are important as the developers of a new invention or technique are seldom connected to their potential users, or to the firms and organisations that have complementary expertise, knowledge and resources. The same applies to potential users of innovations, so that intermediaries are needed to bring organisations and knowledge together to build supply networks and markets.For instance technology intermediaries are created to help firms to take advantage of their technological developments.

Intermediaries have also been defined as a system of complementary organizational categories that shape, pilot and ensure systemic integration, by reducing the complexity of transactions, enabling institutional change and promoting crucial learning dynamics among system components, organizations and entrepreneurs; across political, economic and social innovation-relevant levels. These categories could be settled together, permitting a holistic approximation to the matter of intermediation. The novel notion of a system of intermediary organizations could also facilitate the coordination and evaluation of their profiles and missions over time and space-based requirements.[3]

Intermediaries play a wide range of roles, facilitating the bringing together of various actors at different parts of innovation processes such as ideation, invention, standards making, managing IPR, commercialisation, creating new market segments etc. These intermediaries can specialise in different services. Basic functions include process coordination and matchmaking between innovation seekers and potential solution providers, knowledge and finance broking, testing, standardisation, project valuation and portfolio management etc.[4] Each of these activities facilitates the exchange and the building of new knowledge, creates opportunities for experimentation, helps the emergence of standards and common goals, and the formation of partnerships.

From an economic perspective, innovation intermediaries create multi-sided markets by delivering value to several agents on a matching market, create the market and manage the matching process.[5]

In the age of the internet, there are increasing numbers of online services and platform that explicitly try to play the role of innovation intermediary, including technology matchmaking services, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing services, meetup sites etc. Despite the trend of online platforms, a managerial role for effective tie building in networks or efficient technology matchmaking is necessary.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Howells, J. (2006). "Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation". Research Policy. 35 (5): 715–728. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2006.03.005. 
  2. ^ Stewart, J.; S. Hyyslo (2008). "Intermediaries, Users and Social Learning in Technological Innovation". International Journal of Innovation Management. 12 (3): 295–325. doi:10.1142/S1363919608002035. 
  3. ^ Alberdi, X.; M. D. Parrilli; J. J. Gibaja (2014). "Intermediaries and Regional Innovation Systemic Behavior: A typology for Spain" (20). Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics. 
  4. ^ Katzy, B.; E. Turgut; T. Holzmann; K. Sailer (2013). "Innovation intermediaries: a process view on innovation coordination". Technology Analysis & Strategic management. 25 (3): 295–309. doi:10.1080/09537325.2013.764982. 
  5. ^ Holzmann, T.; K. Sailer; B. Katzy (2014). "Matchmaking as multi-sided market for open innovation". Technology Analysis & Strategic management. 26 (6): 601–615. doi:10.1080/09537325.2014.913786. 
  6. ^ Holzmann, T.; K. Sailer; B. Katzy (2014). "Matchmaking as multi-sided market for open innovation". Technology Analysis & Strategic management. 26 (6): 601–615. doi:10.1080/09537325.2014.913786. 
  • Alberdi, X., Gibaja, J. J. and Parrilli, M. D. (2014): "Intermediaries and Regional Innovation Systemic behavior". Lund University. CIRCLE Working Papers (WP20/2014).
  • Bessant, J and H Rush (1995). "Building bridges for innovation: the role of consultants in technology transfer". Research Policy, 24, pp. 97–114
  • Burt, R (2004). "Structural holes and good ideas". American Journal of Sociology, 110, pp. 349–399.
  • Hargadon, A. B. (1998) "Firms as knowledge brokers: lessons in pursuing continuous innovation". California Management Review, 40, 3, pp. 209–227.
  • Holzmann, T., K. Sailer, B. Katzy (2014) "Matchmaking as multi-sided market for open innovation", Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, Vol 26, Issue 6, pp. 601–615
  • Holzmann, T., K. Sailer, B. Galbraith, B. Katzy (2014) "Matchmaking for open innovation - theoretical perspectives based on interaction, rather than transaction", Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, Vol 26, Issue 6, pp. 595–599
  • Howells, J. (2006) "Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation", Research Policy, 35, pp. 715–728.
  • Katzy, B., E. Turgut, T. Holzmann, K. Sailer (2013) "Innovation intermediaries: a process view on open innovation coordination", Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, Vol 25, Issue 3, pp. 295–309
  • Rogers, E. M., 1962. Diffusion of Innovations. The Free Press, New York.
  • Stankiewicz, R, 1995. Stankiewicz, "The role of the science and technology infrastructure in the development and diffusion of industrial automation in Sweden". In: B. Carlsson, Editor, Technological Systems and Economic Performance: The Case of Factory Automation, Dordrecht, Kluwer (1995), pp. 165–210.
  • Sieg J. H., M. W. Wallin, and G. von Krogh 2010 "Managerial challenges in open innovation: A study of innovation intermediation in the chemical industry", R&D Management, Vol 40 No 3, pp. 281–291
  • Stewart J and Hyysalo, S, 2008, "Intermediaries, Users and Social Learning in Technological Innovation", International Journal of Innovation Management, Vol 12, No 3. (Sept 2008) pp. 295–325
  • Wolpert, J. D. (2002) "Breaking out of the innovation box", Harvard Business Review, 80 (2), pp. 77–83.