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The university´s support to develop, change and innovate the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Business Model.

Published onJun 21, 2023
The university´s support to develop, change and innovate the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Business Model.
Franco Arandia Arzabe, 1, 2 *+
1 Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 2 Research institute of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Universidad Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivia
*[email protected][email protected]
+Doctoral Student, Department of Design Sciences, CIRCLE-Division of Innovation Engineering, LTH-Lund University, Sweden.
Unit of Transfer of Technology-Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Bolivia.

Extended abstract

Social interaction is important in the context of business-university collaborations as it helps to develop new ways of working together and identify opportunities for creating synergies (Argote, Lee & Park, 2021). However, it is important to consider that different actors have different objectives and constraints, which can both enhance the value of collaboration but also complicate the process (Rybnicek & Königsgruber, 2019). The overall performance of the collaboration is not just related to formal development, but also to how the organizations interact with each other as a collective system to create and develop new knowledge for both parties with a common interest. The relationship between the organizations starts due to various motives and leads to different organizational forms depending on the goals of the relationship (Ankrah & AL-Tabbaa, 2015).

The relationship between universities and industry is important for the transfer of knowledge and innovation. Universities have a mission to create and disseminate knowledge, while industry's focus is on using knowledge to develop products and services. This partnership allows for the application of academic research to real-world problems, leading to advancements in technology and industry growth. The organizational culture of universities is geared towards research and education, while industry's culture is focused on commercialization and profitability (Ivascu, Cirjaliu & Draghici, 2016).

Universities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from collaboration through knowledge exchange and joint projects. This can lead to enhanced innovation and growth for both parties. This relationship is becoming increasingly important in today's economy (Ankrah & AL-Tabbaa, 2015). It is important for universities and SMEs to have a good relationship to foster innovation and collaboration. Faculty members, with their knowledge of both research and teaching, can play a key role in fostering collaboration by inviting industry partners to participate in new and innovative projects. This can increase the valuable "friction" between industry and academia, which is essential for the growth and development of both education and business (Asplund & Bengtsson, 2010).

Universities are frequently expected to engage in and support sustainability transitions at the regional level (Bogedain & Hamm, 2020). They can provide impetus for sustainable development in their local environments. In addition, (Hernández-Chea et al., 2021) argue that universities can include research institutes and other actors to support and create sustainable products and services. Universities should and could serve as hubs for innovation by cooperating with, detecting niches, and often sheltering them (Arocena & Sutz, 2021). They can foster their conversion into interactive learning spaces and promote the connections between such spaces as a route towards innovation.

It is valuable to understand that universities interact with industry and small and medium-sized enterprises in different ways due to cultural and economic differences (Ribeiro & Nagano, 2018). This means that there is not a single model that can be used to guide knowledge transfer in all contexts.

Business models are crucial for innovation because they provide a framework for how a company creates, delivers, and captures value (Teece, 2010; Chesbrough, 2010; Foss & Saebi, 2017). A strong business model can help a company achieve a competitive advantage, even if its technology or idea is not necessarily superior (Chesbrough, 2007). Business models are complex and multifaceted, comprising both explicit and implicit knowledge that interact and shape the model. Understanding and optimizing a business model is essential for success in today's business environment (Wadin, Ahlgren & Bengtsson, 2017). The central concept of operational and strategic vision is implicated in promoting transition activities towards sustainability (Hernández-Chea et al., 2021). Firms and their business models act as vital forces to facilitate sustainability transitions (Sarasini & Linder, 2018; Bidmon & Knab, 2018).

Business Model Innovation (BMI) involves not only improving the firm's value creation and capture, but also developing new ways to offer value to customers and potentially reorganizing the company structure (Spieth, Schneckenberg & Ricart, 2014). This is particularly relevant for SMEs which may lack resources and technical capabilities and may need external help in the form of new partners or research and knowledge collaborations to successfully implement BMI (Ibarra et al., 2020).

BMI refers to the process of creating or changing an enterprise business model to improve its performance. Empirical evidence suggests that this approach can be effective for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (Chesbrough, 2010) as it allows them to adapt to a constantly changing environment and become more innovative and collaborative.

The current state of research on university support for SMEs business development has yet to establish a clear understanding and body of knowledge. There is a need for more comprehensive research to advance the field.

The purpose of this research is to establish and identify how the university´s support to develop, change and innovate the business models of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in extant research. Performing a systematic literature review of academic publications, the following research questions will be answered:

-Which are the principal university support activities facilitating business model innovation in SME’s described or proposed by academic research?

-How are these principal university support activities performed?

-What types of BMI strategic objectives in SME’s are university support activities facilitating?

Expected results

The expected results in this research are three: First, to clearly identify the key aspects of university support activities facilitating business model innovation in SMEs as proposed by extant academic research, in order to clarify the state-of-the-art on the topic. The second expected result is to understand the types of BMI strategic objectives that university´s support activities intend to facilitate for SMEs, to apply them in other contexts of emerging economies. Third, provide a basis for further research and theory building in the universities’ support of SMEs.

Preliminary contributions and implications

Universities play a significant role in the development of new knowledge and the transfer of that knowledge to society through various means such as publishing scientific articles, hosting seminars, and promoting knowledge transfer activities. This is important for the relationship between universities and businesses, particularly in the area of Business Model Innovation (Rybnicek & Königsgruber, 2019). Difficulties may exist in this relationship due to differences in organizational culture and objectives between universities and companies(Bruneel, D’Este & Salter, 2010). These difficulties can include differences in terms, activities and perspectives.

Introducing a moderating effect of individual micro-processes can help to understand how specific processes within a university or industry can impact the outcome of innovation in fragile innovation systems typical of emerging economies (Roncancio-Marin et al., 2022). This can provide insight into how to stimulate certain micro-processes to generate desired outcomes in these contexts and facilitate the process towards the sustainability transition.


Business Model Innovation, University Industry collaboration, Development of Small and medium-sized Enterprises, Innovation management


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