The Collaboration Structure and Systems of Innovation in Nanotechnology

  • Sercan Ozcan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research aims to analyse inter-organisational collaboration activities and mechanisms in general and also those specific to the nanotechnology field with the purpose of identifying their effectiveness and efficiency in innovation processes. This research proposes and adapts two new frameworks to be used in its analyses and also in future studies. Following these frameworks, this study investigates the nanotechnology patent network to identify many important aspects of it, such as: key actors, network structures and national differences. Some of the research objectives are: 1) to examine the key determinants of collaborative innovation mechanisms that encourage or hinder organisations to involve themselves in collaborative innovation activities; 2) to discover how the collaboration mechanism impacts the innovation process in the nanotechnology field; and 3) to analyse what kind of collaboration mechanisms exist at different stages of the innovation process. This comprehensive study applies a mixed-method approach that combines both patent and interview data analyses, and draws upon an extensive data sample. The patent data covers almost fifty thousand patent documents that are well-optimised for this study, and the interview sample covers the key experts across different regions. The main contributions of this research are theoretical, empirical and practical as well as methodological contributions to the field. The results of patent data analyses identify many key issues in this field, such as collaboration activities for key organisations, nations’ competitiveness and innovation networks in the nanotechnology field. The results of interview analyses present a comparative study on the collaboration structures across the UK, the US, Germany and China. In addition, this research provides case studies of where inter-organisational collaborations resulted in innovations to illustrate successful scenarios for the nanotechnology field. The analysis of the nanotechnology innovation networks demonstrates that the proposed network model is a useful means of differentiating types of network structures such as mono-linkages, central-linkages and distributed network. With regard to the various stages of collaboration, new funding systems are found to be a mechanism for encouraging organisations to work together from the initial stage of collaboration. To enhance the collaboration mechanism, nanotechnology centres appear to be an effective place to overcome difficulties related to the multi-disciplinarity of nanotechnology. The results show that large organisations are currently the key organizations for the commercialisation process, especially in the electronics industry where high investments are required. SMEs appear to be the key organisations at the incremental level of innovations, and are essential to the expansion and up-scaling of the number of collaborations within the innovation network. The findings of this study are not only applicable to the nanotechnology field; this study could be beneficial within a wider range of social domains (academia, industry, government, intermediaries, fund providers and policy makers) where active and potential organisations are involved in technological collaboration. Moreover, this study differentiates its findings across the selected regions to show national factors, making this study even more valuable.
Date of Award24 Oct 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorNazrul Islam (Supervisor) & Nerys Fuller-Love (Supervisor)

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