PhD Showcase

Speaker: Matjaz Vidmar # University of Edinburgh; Speaker: Daniel Thorpe # University of Edinburgh

20th Nov 2017

15:30 - 17:00

Chrystal MacMillan Building, 6th Floor staff room

Matjaz Vidmar: The role on intermediaries in building knowledge networks in the Scottish space sector

The focus of the economic and industrial development has now in many developed countries shifted towards small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which are more dependent on external knowledge sourcing in their innovation and new product development (NPD) activities.  As such, the formation of knowledge network(s) enabling the flow and exchange of knowledge has become a key point of interest for businesses, policymakers, funding bodies, and, crucially, brokering organisations or innovation intermediaries.

Although innovation intermediaries literature is well established, it is, as noted by many authors, “[…]currently too fragmented (Howells, 2006, Van der Meulen et al., 2005) […]” and “[…]possess[ing] only a limited ‘understanding of these entities, their role, their functions, and their activities in different contexts’” (Abbate et al., 2013 p.235)

That fragmented and limited picture also concerns the intermediaries’ role in knowledge network development, the latter being described as: “Almost all innovation intermediaries, […] work to create and support interorganizational networks. They do so either by influencing the flow of resources through interorganizational ‘pipes’, or by influencing perspectives by shaping the ‘prisms’ through which people make judgments in the absence of reliable information” (Dalziel, 2010:5, citing Podolny, 2001). And though much analytical work was done to describe these activities, less was achieved in systematising them with respect to their effects on the development of a regional and sectoral knowledge network(s).

Hence, this paper is proposing to put forward an evidence based framework for innovation intermediaries knowledge networking activities. Building on a small series of case studies within the Scottish Space Sector, I am outlining a possible spectral classification of the interventions available to intermediaries to facilitate the creation and sustenance of knowledge networks amongst SMEs in emerging high-tech industry sectors.

Daniel Thorpe: ‘Down-to-Earth’ capacity development in space-based Earth Observation research in Southwest Nigeria

‘Down-to-Earth’ capacity development in space-based Earth Observation research in Southwest Nigeria

Since the launch of Nigeria’s first Earth observation (EO) satellites much has been written about the prospects of EO programmes in sub-Sahara Africa. In media and literature this is often related to the African continent’s aspiration of participating in an ever-complex space age. Meanwhile, scholars have focussed on the potential societal benefits of building EO/space capability on the African continent through technology and knowledge transfer programmes. At the same time, post-modernisation and post-development discourses in both developing as well as developed parts of the world have largely discredited determinist and linear understandings of such relationships, and encouraged alternative perspectives on technology and knowledge transfer to and within developing economies. However, little attention has actually been paid to the many related practices on ground and to the actors who use data from Earth observation satellites on a daily basis.

To answer this gap, my paper explores the practices and meanings of Earth observation research/GIScience in a developing country. Where, for example, is the place of this high-technology based research in the context of discourses on appropriate technologies and local knowledge? My research is based on multi-sited ethnographic research at institutions in Southwest Nigeria that use EO satellite data and do related capacity development. Using the analytical frame of Situational Analysis, this research has looked at social, political and non-human elements as well as practices that construct Earth observation research in Southwest Nigeria.