Inspiring Master Thesis Takes a Closer Look at Collaborative Innovation Processes

Silicon Alps Cluster constantly strives to drive innovation and innovative projects forward. Therefore, we are delighted to have formed a collaboration with a young innovative student of our highly valued cooperation partner, the University of Graz, Kalina Chakalova. She is taking on the importance of innovation as part of her Master’s Thesis within the Studies of “Sustainability and Innovation Management”. She dedicated her paper to the optimization of collaborative innovation processes. For this cause, Silicon Alps provides access to their large network and experience concerning innovation within the cluster.

A Closer Look at Collaborative Innovation Processes

In today´s competitive markets innovation is considered to be one of the key drivers of long-term company success. With the capacity to innovate, companies can respond to environmental challenges faster than the ones neglecting an innovative culture. Besides an innovative culture, collaboration is also a key factor for success. This combination of innovation and collaboration is exactly one of the main goals of Silicon Alps Cluster.
Increased complexity and competition make industries focus on their core competencies and processes. However, with the increasing complexity of knowledge and technology, innovators have to search for collaboration in the development of their new products and services, to stay competitive. Innovation is mostly based on knowledge and therefore also closely connected to learning, knowledge, and knowledge creation. Silicon Alps Cluster can be seen as an enabler for the collaborative innovation processes.

Therefore, we started this master project in collaboration with the University of Graz to revise the innovation processes within the cluster and optimize them. The insights gathered from this collaboration are of importance for Silicon Alps Cluster and especially for our cluster members. To collect the data through observation and interviews, Silicon Alps Cluster provides support and feedback as well as access to cluster members.

On the one hand, the output of this collaboration will provide scientific insights in form of an executive summary of the status quo in research regarding findings and conclusions. On the other hand, it will outline an overview of best practices and learnings. Last but not least, one further benefit of this collaboration will finally be the optimization of innovation processes in cluster focus groups.

The Master Thesis Explained: A Guide to Successful Innovative Collaborations

Ever wondered why some collaborations flourish resulting in advanced and exciting innovations while others seem like they just can’t get moving?
Connecting and collaborating with players from industry, science, and public authorities can be as diverse and complex as any human interaction, and oftentimes it is hard to point out the reasons for success and failure. Finding out what sets high achievers apart from the rest is valuable knowledge worth investing in, with the potential to accelerate technological progress in ways otherwise not possible.

As part of Kalina’s Master’s program “Sustainability and Innovation Management” at the University of Graz, she has explored the theoretical basis of what and when something is innovative and has discussed many case studies on how to place innovation on the spectrum of incremental to radical. She further studied how innovations can solve existing problems, expand capabilities, lead to new advancements, and enhance our everyday life. Therefore, focusing on innovation as a priority for any business makes sense, especially in the tech industry, and forming collaborations is an effective way to achieve that. However, collaborating takes more than just getting together and exchanging ideas.
The Master Thesis will cover how an idea evolves into an innovation. More importantly, how can we use this knowledge to provide fertile ground and lead other collaborations to success.

The focus will be laid on Silicon Alps’ cluster focus groups, for they are fostering innovation through enabling cooperation in projects. These are experts from research and industry that come together in meetings and workshops to generate and discuss concrete ideas for cooperation. The cluster partners initiate all kinds of collaborations, from smaller consortia to advance specific product ideas, to large collaborations in wide-ranging lead projects. This unique environment is the perfect opportunity to observe how the transfer of know-how and sharing of skills and interests is generating industry-leading innovations. Here is where the best-practices of the top achiever can bring us valuable insights on how to make our collaborations a great success.

Individual interviews with members of the RFID innovation cluster will be conducted and Kalina will accompany the cluster focus group meetings, conducting an explorative observational study. As a result, the following questions will be answered:

  • How do innovations emerge in cluster focus groups?
  • How can the innovation process in a cluster setting be optimized?
  • Which processes are utilized in the innovation generation?
  • Which strategies are used in handling innovations?
  • Which views on and experiences with cluster focus group meetings exist?
  • Which barriers but also potentials result from them?

Using the obtained data, the goal is to derive best practices and recommendations for action as well as obtain new ways to facilitate innovation-producing collaborations that are effective at building consensus.

We will keep you posted on the results and output of the Master Thesis once all the data is analyzed and published.




 Kalina Chakalova, University of Graz