TKI Wind op Zee connects and supports researchers and organisations to enhance their impact on a renewable offshore energy system. This study reviews the success of knowledge valorisation for about 200 projects in this specific field. Although knowledge valorisation seems to be rather successful, the lack of complete data
Aim of this study
Knowledge valorisation refers to the process of making scientific/academic research available for practical use. Funding for research on renewable offshore wind energy is available via large-scale grants and subsidy programmes from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (Economische Zaken en Klimaat, EZK) and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, OCW). TKI Wind op Zee connects and supports researchers and organisations doing research in this field. This current explorative study aims to measure the level and quality of knowledge valorisation of successfully completed research projects in this field. To do so, available (final) project reports are analysed, meta-data on the projects has been collected (e.g. number of publications and product contributions), and a survey amongst the principal investigators has been executed. Figure S.1 gives an overview of the outcome of the survey. The results of this field work are combined with a literature study on the relevant indicators of knowledge valorisation.
The study provides insights into the success of knowledge valorisation in the examined research projects. Overall, knowledge valorisation seems to be successful and incorporated from the start of the research projects. This study, however, also provides some guidance on how to monitor and evaluate knowledge valorisation in future projects. Conclusions about monitoring include: basic information about finished projects is not (readily) available, research projects (groups/initiatives) are not monitored after finishing the project losing valuable insights into long term valorisation and a benchmark is not available.
Successful knowledge valorisation
The outcomes of the online questionnaire suggest a high level of valorisation in the examined projects. The majority of the principal investigators indicates to have a valorisation plan before the start of the project. Even more striking is that 95 per cent of the principal investigators indicate that their research funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) resulted in a new product, service or process that can be utilised for future research/projects.
Main drivers for successful innovation and knowledge valorisation
Knowledge exchange, careful documentation, knowledge utilisation, coordination and collaboration are the most important prerequisites of successful knowledge valorisation. Knowledge valorisation plays an important role throughout the entire innovation process. Exploratory research and knowledge sharing activities are most important in earlier stages of innovation. In later stages, commercialisation and public-private collaborations are the most important drivers of knowledge valorisation.
Main impediments preventing successful knowledge valorisation
The online survey yields two main reasons for not achieving any knowledge valorisation. The first one mentioned is that during or after the research project, the product, process, or service is not economically viable. The second reason mentioned is that the product, process, or service was not ready to enter the market. It is often mentioned that further research is required. This underlines the importance of being able to monitor knowledge valorisation over time, in particular after the research project finished.
Differences between type of subsidy and knowledge valorisation?
The resulting correlations between project characteristics and knowledge valorisation indicators are rather low, and the vast majority is also not statistically significant at a 5 per cent significance level. The most surprising result is the negative correlation between the duration of a project and the number of publications. Longer projects seem to have a lower number of publications.
Recommendations for more insights into knowledge valorisation
- This study underlines public-private collaboration’s importance to achieve knowledge valorisation in innovative (applied) research at mid-range Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). In the current funding instruments by both RVO and NWO, a public-private collaboration is not a prerequisite, whereas the results of this analysis show that this would increase the chance on a successful knowledge valorisation.
- Monitoring of the research projects near and right after completion should be improved upon.
- Monitor and follow research from a certain research group, consortium or network over a longer time (including over different research projects).
- Introduce a pre-specified format for delivering the final report of a research project.
- Set up a benchmark for the expected output both in quantitative and qualitative dimensions.
Conclusion & discussion
Knowledge valorisation takes a prominent position in research projects in the field of TKI Wind op Zee. Assessment criteria of different funding alternatives are in line with important drivers of knowledge valorisation as known from the literature. The projects seem to be rather successful in valorisation, however, differences in (meta-)data quality and availability of project reports prevent statistical testing of hypotheses.
This study aims to measure the level and, if possible, quality of knowledge valorisation in the research projects that are in scope of the TKI Wind op Zee programme. To answer this question, the following sub questions are considered:
- To what extent do completed research projects in the TKI Wind op Zee programme show success in innovation and applicable knowledge?
- What are the main drivers for the degree of successful innovation and knowledge valorisation?
- What are the main impediments preventing knowledge valorisation from being created?
- Are there any differences between types of subsidy programmes and knowledge valorisation?
Sub question 1 – success in knowledge valorisation
Knowledge valorisation refers to the process of making scientific/academic research available for practical use. The most commonly used indicators of the quality of knowledge valorisation are the number of (scientific) publications, licences and patents, spin-offs, non-academic jobs created and revenue generated from newly generated knowledge. These indicators are also used by Dutch universities in 2019 to evaluate the quality of their valorisation activities.
The outcomes of the online questionnaire suggest a high level of valorisation in the projects subsidised by RVO/NWO in the context of the TKI Wind op Zee programme. The majority of the principal investigators indicated they come up with a valorisation plan before the start of the project. Even more striking is that for the RVO administered research projects, 95 per cent of the principal investigators indicate that the research resulted in a new product, service or process that can be utilised for future research/projects.
Sub question 2 – main drivers for knowledge valorisation
There is a consensus in the literature that knowledge exchange, precise documentation, knowledge utilisation, coordination and collaboration are the most important prerequisites of successful knowledge valorisation. Knowledge valorisation plays an important role throughout the entire innovation process. The innovation process starts at lower TRLs in which exploratory research and knowledge sharing activities are most important. At higher TRLs commercialisation and public-private collaborations are the most important stimulus of knowledge valorisation.
From the online survey follows that the inclusion of a public partner (university/TO2) is found to be beneficial in terms of the generation of new knowledge and knowledge sharing purposes. However, the public-private collaboration seems to be the most efficient collaboration with respect to knowledge valorisation. Hence, the role of the private participant is important. Especially at valorisation activities in higher TRL projects the role of the private participant is significant. These activities are often linked to commercialisation.
Sub question 3 – main impediments regarding knowledge valorisation
Besides mirroring the answers to sub question 2, the online survey yielded two reasons for not achieving any knowledge valorisation. The first one mentioned is that during or after the research project, the product, process, or service is not economically viable. The second reason mentioned is that the product, process, or service was not ready to enter the market. It is often mentioned that further research is required. The latter impediment might be a temporary one, further research might improve the output into an economic viable output, whereas the former has a more final character.
Sub question 4 – differences across instruments and/ or types of research
The resulting correlations between project characteristics and knowledge valorisation indicators are rather weak, and the vast majority is also not statistically significant at a 5 per cent significance level. There are some statistically significant correlations between project characteristics.